Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2019, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (6): 574-583.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764X.2019.06.002

• Ecological Carrying Capacity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of Water Resources Carrying Capacity of the “Belt and Road” Initiative Countries based on Virtual Water Theory

ZHENG Xin1, XU Zengrang2,*()   

  1. 1. School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2019-06-29 Accepted:2019-08-29 Online:2019-11-30 Published:2019-12-09
  • Contact: XU Zengrang
  • Supported by:
    The Tibetan Scientific-Technology Project(Z2016C01G01/04);The National Natural Science Foundation of China(41571496);The National Key Research and Development Programme(2016YFC0503403)


Most countries along the route of the “Belt and Road” initiative are faced with a shortage of water resources. However, successful implementation of the initiative depends on water availability to support economic and social development. We designed a water resources carrying capacity evaluation index system, assigned grades and weights to each evaluation index and calculated a water resources carrying index for the 65 countries along the route. We used virtual water theory to analyze China’s net virtual water import from key bulk agricultural products through international trade. For more than half of the countries along the route, their water resources will be unable to support the economic development that will be necessary for fulfilling the goals of the Initiative. As a country with insufficient water resources carrying capacity, China is a net virtual water importer in the virtual water trade. This virtual water trade can improve China’s water resources support capacity, and ensure China’s water and food security for the future.

Key words: water resources carrying capacity, virtual water, the “Belt and Road”, agricultural products trade