Alliance for Water Stewardship Releases First International Standard to Drive Sustainable Freshwater Use

Water is a shared resource critical for human health, driving the economy, and maintaining freshwater species. Yet due to a myriad of factors, including growing demand, climate change and pollution, freshwater in many regions is increasingly at risk.

The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), a partnership of global leaders in sustainable water management, aims to reduce that risk. On April 8 in Lima, Peru, the multi-stakeholder group released the International Water Stewardship Standard version 1.0, the first global framework to promotesustainable freshwater use.

“We are delighted to be able to launch the Standard here in Peru, a country that in many ways epitomizes the challenges of managing water wisely in a world where social, economic and environmental pressures collide,” said Adrian Sym, Executive Director of AWS. “The work we have done in the asparagus sector here highlights how international demand for more and different foods can threaten the water resources that communities and companies depend on, and the need to work collectively to safeguard these resources and the livelihoods they support.”

By focusing on targets in water governance, water balance, water quality and other important water related areas, the Standard will help water-users understand the value of water, mitigate their water risks, and earn recognition for responsible water stewardship. It clearly defines criteria for good water stewardship and was designed to align with other sustainability initiatives and support independent certification with varying levels of recognition.

The Standard was developed through a four-year, multi-stakeholder, global water roundtable process that included a diversity of business, public sector and civil society interests from around the world, as well as pilot projects held in seven countries. Over the course of nine months, leading companies in pulp and paper, mining, chemicals, oil and gas, water service provision and agriculture applied the Standard to test its feasibility and applicability. These projects helped define targets in water governance, water balance, water quality and other important water-related areas.