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Alliance for Water Stewardship

An acquaduct streaming water downhill from the Sierra de las Minas, a moutain range in eastern Guatemala.

Through the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), WWF partners with global leaders in sustainable water management to promote the use of freshwater in a way that is socially, economically and environmentally beneficial.

As one of the founding board members, WWF worked alongside the following organizations to establish the AWS as an independent non-profit organization dedicated to advancing water stewardship:

Fresh water
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Water Stewardship Australia
  • Pacific Institute
  • CDP
  • United Nations Environment Programme
  • UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate
  • European Water Partnership
  • Water Environment Federation
  • Water Witness International

As part of AWS’s Secretariat, WWF led the development of the International Water Stewardship Standard 1.0, the first global framework to promote sustainable freshwater use, following ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice. The Standard defines criteria for good water stewardship and was designed to align with other sustainability initiatives and support independent certification with varying levels of recognition. It 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.

“AWS and its Standard will help drive this coordination globally, but also in regions and—most importantly—in river basins. It will make water stewardship something that’s real and not just a concept.”

Karin Krchnak
Director, Freshwater, WWF

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.

AWS offers a variety of ways to improve, incentivize and recognize responsible water use, including helping members engage key stakeholders within their watershed and supply chain. To encourage understanding and engagement around water, AWS will also launch a capacity-development program and membership opportunities for those who want to help shape the future of water stewardship. By joining AWS, organizations can learn what they can do to help protect shared resources, as well as shape the future of water stewardship.

AWS, through its International Water Stewardship Standard and other programs, has great potential to address WWF’s main water stewardship goals of achieving responsible water governance, sustainable water balance, good water quality and protection/restoration of important water areas.

  • Rio Conchos, Chihuahua Desert, Mexico

    Water Governance

    Sustainable water governance requires equitable and transparent management of all water resources within a defined area, ideally an entire basin. Governance lays out a framework of processes and decision making on how water is managed, and includes aspects of access, rights, policy and claims.

  • Fresh Waters

    Water Balance

    Sustainable water balance ensures adequate availability for all users—including nature—at all times. It addresses the amount and timing of water use, including whether the volumes withdrawn, consumed, and returned are sustainable relative to renewable supplies.

  • boy drinking from fountain

    Water Quality

    Good water quality depends on the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water required to maintain ecosystems and meet the needs of all users of the shared resource.

  • Wetlands

    Important Water Areas

    Certain areas of every basin are particularly important for local stakeholders and the ecosystem services that are provided, including those for cultural, spirit, recreational, economic, and biodiversity. These are often riparian areas, vernal pools critical for breeding of important aquatic species, aquifer recharge zones, water-related sites of religious significance, wetlands that provide water purification services, or drinking water reservoirs. These areas should be protected, carefully managed and restored as necessary.

To commit to AWS or learn more about the International Water Stewardship Standard, please visit the AWS website.


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