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Arjen Hoekstra introduced the water footprint in 20021, building on the concept of virtual water Tony Allan to discuss the role of trade in alleviating water scarcity in the Middle East. He thereby opened a new dimension in the debate around fair and sustainable allocation of freshwater resources. He laid the foundations to show the role of indirect water (that is, water used elsewhere to produce goods we consume) in our daily life beyond our direct use for drinking, cooking or washing. The water footprint is an indicator of direct and indirect water use by a producer or consumer, showing how water flows through our economies by tracing it through supply chains and trade.
Hoekstra was born and raised in Delft, a student town close to the Dutch North Sea coast. According to his two brothers, at a young age he was already known for his sharp mind, passion for reasoning and strong argumentation. Later he earned an MSc degree in Civil Engineering and a PhD degree in Policy Analysis from Delft University of Technology, after which he worked for few years at UNESCO-IHE, including in Zimbabwe.
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