This will allow responsible companies and other organizations to benchmark performance while providing customers with a tool to drive higher levels of performance globally.
(Vocus) March 17, 2009
Istanbul, Turkey-- Today, The Nature Conservancy, The Water Stewardship Initiative of Australia, Water Witness, the Water Environment Federation, the Pacific Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund, announced the launch of a new global water stewardship program to recognize and reward responsible water managers, corporations, the agriculture industry, cities, and water authorities for sustainable use of water resources. This group of leading business, social development and conservation organizations has joined together as the "Alliance for Water Stewardship" (AWS) in order to develop common standards to manage water in a way that enables social and economic development while also maintaining environmental sustainability.
"The Forest Stewardship Council exists as a mechanism for certifying wood products as sustainable, and the fair trade system allows consumers to choose products that support and sustain local communities, but no such program exists for water," said Jonathan Kaledin, Blue Water Certification Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. "The Alliance for Water Stewardship will lead the charge towards development of the first-ever standards to improve the way water is managed around the world."
Today, nearly two billion people lack access to clean water for drinking or sanitation, while many of the rivers and lakes that sustain human communities are polluted or running dry. Properly functioning rivers, lakes and wetlands are the very foundation upon which virtually all living things on earth depend, but demands on the planet's available freshwater supplies are at an all-time high, threatening the health of water supplies. By 2030, two-thirds of the world's population will live in geographic regions experiencing severe water stress.
In response to these challenges, AWS members will work together to provide a global platform for the development of standards for water stewardship that will enable fair and sustainable management of freshwater resources. By recognizing through tangible verification those water users and managers who are taking major steps to adopt responsible water management practices, AWS will provide powerful incentives to improve the way water is managed around the world.
"Business, environment and social groups all are interested in a meaningful global standard against which water performance can be judged," said Michael Spencer, Director of the Water Stewardship Initiative in Australia. "This will allow responsible companies and other organizations to benchmark performance while providing customers with a tool to drive higher levels of performance globally."
Over the next several years, the Alliance members will work with water authorities, industries, local communities and environmentalists to establish a voluntary certification program for water managers and users based on the following:
- International standards developed through an equitable, inclusive, transparent, science-based, multi-stakeholder process.
- Verification to determine whether these standards have been met.
- A global brand that allows managers, users and organizations to demonstrate their compliance with or support for water stewardship.
- Training and education to promote achievement of water stewardship.
AWS will enable international, multi-sector collaboration, with stakeholders ranging from large international water companies to small local water utilities to agricultural water users, in a manner that has the potential to be truly transformative. The water stewardship initiative will stimulate and further a new global ethic in regard to the use of fresh water, and will stand beside regulatory processes that currently govern water issues in many parts of the world.
Communities, organizations and industries around the world now recognize clearly the value of certification efforts involving voluntary participants. Participants in other international certification businesses already in effect are able to establish transparency and accountability for their activities that go beyond mere regulatory compliance. Through their participation they also demonstrate a clear consideration of social and environmental impacts.
AWS will continue to expand in the coming months, building its membership base, bringing in new organizations to reflect as fully as possible the different geographic, social, economic, and environmental perspectives of the water issues faced across the globe, and implementing a series of stakeholder roundtables to receive input on the development of standards.
Participation in AWS is open to anyone interested in promoting sustainable water use, and stakeholder outreach and engagement will be involved in every aspect of the design, development, and implementation of the water stewardship program. Learn more about how to join this effort at: http://www.allianceforwaterstewardship.org/register.html.
Visit the Alliance for Water Stewardship on the web at: http://www.allianceforwaterstewardship.org.
The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) has been formed to provide a global platform for the development of standards for water stewardship that will enable fair and sustainable management of freshwater resources. By recognizing through certification those water users and managers who are taking major steps to minimize their water use and impacts, we will provide powerful incentives to improve the way water is managed around the world.
The Nature Conservancy