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18 July 2019

As agriculture accounts for over 90% of global water consumption, how we eat and drink has a considerable impact on water resources.

By 2030 global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40%. As agriculture accounts for over 90% of global water consumption, how we eat and drink has a considerable impact on water resources.

However, many of us are completely unaware of how much water it takes to produce the ingredients for the meals we eat. The Wonderwater Café is a pop-up that provides its diners with information they need to make ethical decisions on the food they choose to consume. The project features in the XXII Triennnale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival and the museum’s Triennale Caffé is hosting the Wonderwater Café for the duration of the exhibition.

Dr Naho Mirumachi, Senior Lecturer of Geography and Lead of King’s Water Hub, and MSc candidate Arthur Fuest, have been working to calculate the ‘water footprint’ of the dishes and drinks served in the museum restaurant.

The Water Footprint

The Water Footprint is a tool for understanding water consumption and considers the volume of water used to produce all goods and services, including imported goods.

It is important to understand where food is sourced as natural ingredients may be coming from an area of the world where water is scarce, therefore having detrimental effects on the local community, economy and their natural resources.

Based on their findings, Dr Mirumachi and Fuest have worked in collaboration with curators from Jane Withers Studio to design a menu that explains the significance of the water footprint associated with the foods in relation to sustainability.

Understanding impact

Dr Mirumachi said: "Working on this project is immensely valuable to showcase the work that we do on water sustainability, as well as the diverse approaches we have to this topic at King's Water. This exhibition is a superb opportunity to engage with a wider audience outside of academia, and to further the reach of the impact of our research."

Jane Withers, Founder of Jane Withers Studio, said: “Visitors are invariably astonished by the sheer amount of water that is required to produce the food on their plate. Almost everyone understands about the carbon footprint and the problems of food waste, but often the water impact of food production is something that people haven’t considered.

“Using the form of a café and creative design to communicate scientific research means that we are providing information directly at the point where people make real-life decisions, making complex issues more accessible.”

Delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals

King's College London has a long and proud history of serving the needs and aspirations of society. We are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a university, and we use them as a framework for reporting on our social impact. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals approved by the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) which aim to transform the world by 2030. This research supports SDGs 6, 12 and 14.

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