Footprints of water and energy inputs in food production: Global perspectives

Shahbaz Khan, Munir Ahmad Hanjra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Citations (Scopus)


During the second half of the 20th century the global food production more than doubled and thus responded to the doubling of world population. But the gains in food production came at a cost, leaving a significant environmental footprint on the ecosystem. Global cropland, plantations and pastures expanded, with large increases in fossil energy, water, and fertilizer inputs, imprinting considerable footprint on the environment. Information from pre eminent publications such as Nature, Science, PNAS and scholarly journals is synthesized to assess the water and energy footprints of global food production. The data show that the footprints are significant, both locally, national and globally and have consequences for global food security and ecosystem health and productivity. The literature nearly agrees that global food production system generates considerable environmental footprints and the situation would likely get worrisome, as global population grows by 50% by 2050. Investments are needed today to buffer the negative impacts of food production on the environment. Investments to boost water productivity and improve energy use efficiency in crop production are two pathways to reduce the environmental footprint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalFood Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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