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Working paper

The Virtual Water of Siberia and the Russian Far East for the Asia-Pacific Region: Global Gains vs Regional Sustainability

There is no many areas in the world, almost non-involved in world production. Russian Siberia and the Far East, traditionally are considered only as oil and gas reservoirs, but southern areas of these lands have enormous potential for water-intense production, first – for agriculture but also for paper, metals and mining, hydro energy. This potential is strengthening due to the proximity of the most water demanding and the most dynamic region of the world – Asian-Pacific region (hereinafter, APR). Meanwhile there is no many research dedicated to this opportunities in academic literature. This paper investigates this region, its particularities and challenges this region issues to relevant theories – interdependence theory and its water specification – virtual water concept. The most significant outcomes of the research refer both to theory and strategic studies. We proved the hypothesis that absolute water economy, derived from virtual water trade in some cases may provide a formal improvement in a global scale but worsen water security status and increase a level of water stress in long-term period. Particular implication for Russia and APR is that intense Russian integration to APR virtual water market obviously provides considerable benefits for Russia. But what is more important, strictly according to interdependence theory, Russia, acting as a guarantee of Asian food and water security will provide long-term positive effects for the whole region through diminishing water stress and desecuritization of food trade and water allocation in the region.