Today the Alliance for Water Stewardship, or AWS, will host a meeting in Washington D.C. to seek public input on the first draft of its International Water Stewardship Standard.
The AWS Standard will define voluntary actions that businesses and water users worldwide could take to improve the social, environmental and financial sustainability of water use. The objective is to create a program that recognizes and rewards water users and managers who take significant steps to minimize their water use and impacts. Similar global standards have been adopted for sustainable practices in industries such as forestry, energy efficiency and construction.
“Our goals initially will be to have water users sign on and test and use the standard,” said Lisa Downes, who heads The Nature Conservancy’s efforts with the North America Regional Initiative of AWS. “So far there has been a lot of excitement from our partners – corporations, utilities and other non-profit organizations. People realize the time is right for this type of program to be developed.”
Adrian Sym, executive director of AWS, said, “Our unique value is our ability to drive independently-verified, watershed-level impacts that benefit people, nature and the economy. We will do this through building and implementing an international water stewardship system, at the heart of which will be the AWS Standard.”
The meeting in Washington D.C. is the second to take place in North America during the 90-day review period of the first draft standard, which was announced during the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, in March. The first meeting took place in Toronto, Ontario, on April 26.
The draft Standard focuses around four principles: water governance, water balance, water quality, and important water areas. Each principle includes criteria and indicators against which compliance will be measured. A second draft of the Standard, based upon stakeholder feedback, will be released in late 2012 with a final Standard expected in mid-2013. The standard is the work of a multi-stakeholder committee appointed by AWS to represent the diversity of stakeholder interests from around the world – from industry, public sector and civil society.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.