Sustainable Engineering

Water footprint of German and European imports of agricultural products: Trends and developments in the context of water scarcity

In 2016, agricultural products worth more than EUR 30 billion were imported into Germany (Federal Statistical Office, 2017), including food and feed as well as industrial raw materials, such as cotton. Agricultural areas are increased to meet the increasing demand and year-round irrigation is used to increase yields. Many imported crops are water-intensive, whose water consumption depends on local conditions. For example, 2244 m3 of water are required to produce 1 ton of soybeans in Brazil, while “only” 1380 m3 are required in the USA (Hoekstra and Hung, 2002). This water is exported in the form of virtual water and is therefore no longer available locally. Local production areas are impacted by the increasing scarcity of water. Quantifying the effects is possible using the water footprint method (ISO 14046).

Against this background, this project aims to examine what effects the German and European demand for agricultural products has on the water-scarcity-weighted water footprint in the producing countries.

The specific goals are as follows:

§ Analysis of trends and developments in imports of agricultural products to Germany and the EU and the resulting water footprint between 2000 and 2015

§ Analysis of the EU's contribution to the development of water scarcity in the exporting countries between 2000 and 2015

§ A detailed analysis of the impact in Brazil at the state level

Partner: Brot für die Welt, Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung e.V.
Duration Nov. 2017 – Mar. 2018

MSc. Iulia Dolganova

Room Z 107
Phone +49 (0) 30 314-21184
Fax +49 (0) 30 314-21720
E-mail: iulia.dolganova(at)

MSc. Natalia Finogenova
Room Z 205
Phone +49 (0) 30 314-28455
Fax +49 (0) 30 314-21720
E-mail: natalia.finogenova(at)

Dr.-Ing. Markus Berger (Project lead)
Room Z 202
Phone +49 (0) 30 314-25084
Fax +49 (0) 30 314-21720
E-mail: markus.berger(at)