Abstract The increase in the worldwide demand for clean water and energy makes it imperative to improve the supply and use efficiency for contributing to a sustainable future. The link between energy and water supply increases with the cost of delivery causes shortages of energy and water. This paper reviews the trends in the global flows of energy and water supply, identifies the inherent limitations and analysis the concept of virtual water. In the globalised world, the greenhouse gas emission and water consumption are increasingly important indicators for policy and decision making. Development of footprint assessment techniques over the last decade has provided a set of tools for monitoring greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions including CO2, NH4 and NOX, and water flows in the world. An overview of the virtual GHG and virtual water flow trends in the international trade based on consumption perspective is performed. Review of the recent works indicates that: (i) They are significant CO2 and the other GHG gaps between producer's and consumer's emissions, and the US and EU have high absolute net imports GHG budget. (ii) South East Asia exporting countries increasingly carries a load of CO2 emission and virtual water export that are triggered due to consumption in other importing countries. (iii) By imported products that are produced with lower carbon emission intensity and less water consumption than in the domestic industry, international trade can reduce global environmental pressure. They are considerable implications for industry, service, agriculture and the civic sector. An escalation of the efforts has been witnessed recently in different parts of the world: very notably in the EU, America and South East Asia. The developments have addressed the worldwide need for resource security. Conclusions are drawn for the directions of promising future research, development, and societal activities.

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