Visualizing the Climate Crisis: Virtual Water

May 16, 2023
11:00–12:15PM EDT
Share on:
Tomatoes are harvested near Mendota, California. These tomatoes are destined for canned tomatoes, tomato sauces and ketchup. Photograph by Uwe H. Martin

This event begins at 11:00 EDT / 16:00 BST / 17:00 CEST on Tuesday 16 May 2023.

This is the second talk of the series, Visualizing the Climate Crisis, which explores the potential and the role that contemporary photography, together with different disciplines, can have in addressing the multi-layered theme of climate change. The series will feature visual journalists doing evidence-based, research-informed, image-led reporting on climate issues. They will be in conversation with other professionals representing a diverse range of disciplines, such as science, policy-making, education, architecture, social innovation, media, and more, trying to explore the possibility of thinking beyond photography in a genuinely trans-disciplinary approach to expand reach, involve the wider public, and move people from being inspired to taking action.

This event features Uwe H. Martin and Dr. Francesca Greco in conversation with Maria Teresa Salvati, moderated by Dr. Paul Lowe.

Virtual water–also known as embodied or hidden water–is a term coined by John Anthony Allan in 1993. The concept refers to the quantity of freshwater used in the products, services, and processes people buy and use daily. Virtual water often goes unseen by the end-user of a product or service, but that water has been consumed throughout the value chain, which makes the creation of that product or service possible. The concept of virtual water trade was introduced to refer to the idea that countries can save domestic water by importing food.

How can ‘virtual water’ be visualized? Can visual storytellers and scientists collaborate to communicate the whole story to the wide public? How could we make people aware of their eating and buying habits, be conscious of their choices, and eventually reduce their footprint on the planet?

This series is organized by Everything is Connected; UAL, University of the Arts London; and VII Insider.


Francesca Greco is an expert on international water politics with a Ph.D. in Water and Food Politics from King’s College London. She has been a member of the London Water Research Group since 2003. A United Nations volunteer at UNESCO in Ghana, Francesca has been a consultant for WWF, FAO, and various NGOs working in water and food politics for over 20 years.
Maria Teresa Salvati is the founder and director of Everything is Connected, a trans-disciplinary platform that aims at connecting different areas of research and experiments with new ways to involve and engage the public at large, learning through the results of experimentation and providing the community with new paradigms for communicating the environmental crisis.
Dr. Paul Lowe is a Reader in Documentary Photography and the Course Leader of the Masters program in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts, London, UK. Paul is an award-winning photographer who has been published in TIME, Newsweek, Life, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Observer, and The Independent, amongst others. He has covered breaking news the world over, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson Mandela’s release, famine in Africa, the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and the destruction of Grozny.
Uwe H. Martin is an independent visual storyteller, slow journalist, researcher, and educator. His long-term projects, which combine photography with documentary film, text, and sound, focus on the significant environmental issues of the Anthropocene.

Sign up for news from VII Insider

First name *
Last name *
Email *