What is Water Stewardship?

The use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that involves site and catchment-based actions.

The AWS Standard

The Alliance for Water Stewardship International Water Stewardship Standard (AWS Standard) is a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context.

Developed through a four-year global multi-stakeholder process, the AWS Standard supports implementing sites in understanding the local context and its shared water challenges, and to begin transparent and constructive engagement with other stakeholders. This globally-consistent approach helps sites develop contextually-appropriate actions in pursuit of four outcomes:

  • Good water governance
  • Sustainable water balance
  • Good water quality
  • Healthy status of important water-related areas (ecosystems and cultural sites)

Implementing the AWS Standard helps sites to:

  • Understand their water use in the context of a catchment
  • Build internal capacity through a step-wise learning framework
  • Manage water risks at a site level and through supply chains
  • Engage effectively and build trust with local stakeholders
  • Demonstrate real leadership in addressing water challenges

Driving continuous improvement

The AWS Standard drives continual improvement through three performance levels: core, gold and platinum. The AWS system includes third-party certification and a network of accredited professional service providers who support and assess the implementation of the Standard.

Building trust for collaboration

The integrity of the multi-stakeholder processes through which it was developed enables the Standard to act as a neutral framework that drives transparency, builds trust and enhances understanding of shared water challenges. In doing so the AWS Standard provides a “safe place” that is critical to enabling genuine and lasting collaboration.

Stewardship is about taking care of something that we do not own. Stewardship approaches that focus on the management of common pool resources like water are based on the principle of collective accountability for the sustainable management of those resources and are, therefore, based on collective responses.

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