Coping with water scarcity in a globalized world, funded by ERC

which aims at studying the main characteristics and implications of the virtual water flows associated to the international trade of food. The project has the following main goals:
  • understanding the dynamics of virtual water flows;

  • investigating the international water trade network;

  • evaluating impacts and feedbacks for food security;

  • assessing the vulnerability of the system to crises.

We aim at investigating the complex relationships between climatic, agronomic and socio-economic factors and how they shape the evolution of the worldwide trade of virtual water.

Quantitative modelling approaches will enable the assessment of characteristics, dynamics and future evolutions of virtual water trade in the coming decades, under different climatic, demographic and socio-economic scenarios.
The virtual water trade will also be considered in a multi-level network framework, in order to analyze the joined evolution with trade, population and nutrition networks.
The response of the system to critical situations will be investigated together with an assessment of the system vulnerability.
In addition, to improve the future management of the virtual water trade, the project will provide operational guidelines and action proposals based on the use of quantitative data.
Given the extent of international trade, the scale of the problem is inherently global; nevertheless, some analyses will focus on specific countries and local situations.

Francesco Laio

Full Professor

Francesco Laio is a water scientist with expertise in hydrology, water resources assessment, environmental modelling, and statistics. He holds a degree in Environmental Engineering (from Politecnico di Torino) and a PhD in Water Engineering (from Politecnico di Milano), and was recently appointed Full Professor in Hydrology. His scholarly activities are documented by more than 140 publications, including 95 papers in ISI peer-reviewed international journals, and a book published by Cambridge University Press. In the past few years he has served as the coordinator of 11 national and international research projects (including a FIRB project and a ERC Consolidator Grant) for a total budget of 2.2 M€.

Carla Sciarra

PhD candidate - economical impact of water fluxes

Carla Sciarra is a PhD fellow at the Politecnico di Torino. She received her Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineer from the same university, spending one year as a Visiting Student at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Her research topic focuses on the impact, relevance and quality of virtual water fluxes on the global economy. She is currently studying the topology of the global trade network and methods to evaluate the most crucial countries exchanges in terms of products.

Irene Soligno

Phd Candidate - virtual water trade

Irene Soligno is a PhD candidate at Politecnico di Torino. She got the Master and Bachelor degrees in Environmental Engineering at the University of Bologna. Her research focuses on the globalization of (virtual) water resources through the food trade. Currently, she is investigating the environmental cost of food production on global freshwater ecosystems in order to study the virtual water trade network with an impact-oriented perspective.

Stefania Tamea

Tenure track researcher

Stefania Tamea is a researcher in the field of water resources, with expertise in ecohydrology and statistical and environmental modeling. She holds a PhD degree in Water Engineering (2007) and she has been working at the Princeton University (Princeton, USA) and at the Politecnico di Torino, where she has now a tenure-track position (RTD-b). Her work focuses on the water resources use for agriculture and food production, on virtual water and the relation with international trade network, on sustainability and the nexus between water and food security. Her scientific activity is documented by more than 20 papers in international ISI journals, 3 book chapters, and by several invited speeches in national and international symposiums. In 2015, she has been appointed “Junior Marchi Lecturer” by the Gruppo Italiano Idraulica.

Ignazio Giuntoli

Post-doc researcher - Crop yield and climate variability

Ignazio Giuntoli did graduate work in flood risk perception through public engagement in São Paulo, Brazil and worked at IRSTEA -Lyon on streamflow time series analysis for monitoring the evolution of floods and droughts in France. He completed his PhD at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology -Wallingford on simulated runoff from global models before taking up a postdoctoral position at the University of Birmingham. He is now a postdoc at the Politecnico di Torino, his research focuses on understanding the relation between agricultural crop yield and climate variability.

Tiziano Distefano

PostDoc - water trade & network

Tiziano Distefano is a Post-Doc Researcher at Politecnico di Torino. He holds a PhD in Economics, Markets and Institutions at IMT Lucca. He was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research. He got the Master and Bachelor degrees in Economics at the University of Pisa. His main research interests involve: ecological sustainability and growth, distribution of natural resources (water) and International Trade, Network Theory, Input-Output Analysis, Evolutionary Game Theory, and Epistemological Foundation of Ecological Economics.

Luca Ridolfi

Full Professor - Hydraulics & Mechanics

Luca Ridolfi is full professor of Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics in the Politecnico di Torino. He was Department Head of the Department of Hydraulics, Transports and Civil Infrastructures of the Politecnico di Torino and coordinator of the PhD School in Civil and Envirnmental Engineering. He has been responsible for several scientific projects, funded by the national and international agencies. He is author of about 200 papers published on international referred journals and he has co-authored two scientific published by Cambridge University Press and Birkhauser.

Marta Tuninetti

PhD candidate - Virtual water in food production

Marta Tuninetti is an Environmental Engineer. She holds her master degree from Politecnico di Torino. At present, she is in her third year of PhD in Environmental Engineering (at Politecnico di Torino). She was a Visiting Research Scholar at the University of Virginia and at the University College London. Her research project focuses on the study of the linkage between food production and water resources through the virtual water perspective.

Guido Chiarotti

Consultant - economic complexity

Guido Chiarotti is a scientist, a publisher and a management consultant. He is currently the executive managing director at MAX, a recently established European Centre of Excellence (ECoE) on High Performance Computing (HPC) aimed to foster the EU leadership in materials modelling, simulations, discovery and design. He is also research associate at the Institute of Complex Systems (ISC-CNR) in Rome, where he is involved in research activity on Economic Complexity. He is also a publisher of Scienza Express, an Italian scientific dissemination publishing house. He was the CEO of Spin s.r.l. for over 20 years, one of the first companies to introduce internet in the Italian market. Previously he was a researcher for over 15 years at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) in Trieste, working in condensed matter computational physics with a focus on high-pressure phenomena, semiconductors, super-ionic materials and surface physics.