Become a Water Steward
At the core of AWS lies applied knowledge of water stewardship. AWS employs three reinforcing programs to drive improved water stewardship: a standard and verification system, membership, and training. Each of these programs provides benefits and work together to build capacity to address our shared water challenges. Please use the links in this section to understand how you can become a water steward.
What is Water Stewardship?
Stewardship is about taking care of something that we do not own. Stewardship approaches that focus on the management of public goods like forests, fisheries or, in our case, freshwater resources, are based on the premise that we are all accountable for the sustainable management of those resources and are, therefore, based on collective responses. We define water stewardship as
“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. Good water stewards understand their own water use, catchment context and shared risk in terms of water governance, water balance, water quality and important water-related areas; and then engage in meaningful individual and collective actions that benefit people and nature.”
- Socially equitable water use recognizes and implements the human right to water and sanitation and helps to ensure human wellbeing and equity.
- Environmentally sustainable water use maintains or improves biodiversity, ecological and hydrological processes at the catchment level.
- Economically beneficial water use contributes to long-term sustainable economic growth and development and poverty alleviation for water users, local communities and society at large
- Internal actions: within the site and under the responsibility of the site management
- External: actions in collaboration with others in the catchment and including actions in the supply chain and the catchment as a whole.
- Water stewardship is intended to support and contribute to Integrated Water Resource Management by all actors.
The AWS International Water Stewardship Standard
The AWS International Water Stewardship Standard (AWS Standard) is an international, ISEAL-compliant, standard that defines a set of water stewardship criteria and indicators for how water should be stewarded at a site and catchment level in a way that is environmentally, socially, and economically beneficial. The Standard provides water stewards with a six-step continual improvement framework that enables sites to commit to, understand, plan, implement, evaluate and communicate water stewardship actions.
Implementing the AWS Standard helps sites to:
- mitigate their water risks,
- address their shared water challenges in the catchment, and
- ensure that responsible water stewardship actions are in place to minimize negative impacts and maximize positive impacts for everyone.
The AWS Standard can be implemented by any site, in any sector, in any catchment around the world. Furthermore, the Standard can be harnessed by others interested in mitigating corporate risks, such as water-related supply chain risks or investors, as well as public sector agencies as a framework to evaluate water stewardship practices.
Free to download, the AWS Standard will also soon be supported by a verification system which will enable verification of practices, the use of claims and AWS verified logos. The verification system will recognize the different levels of performance outlined in the AWS Standard and will offer independent verification of performance developed by members in a robust and credible manner. AWS has targeted to have completed, tested and launched the verification system by the end of 2014.
The AWS Standard is managed by the members of the Alliance for Water Stewardship and informed by a technical advisory group.
To get involved in its ongoing development or to register your interest in pursuing verification (once available), please contact AWS.
To find out more on how the AWS Standard was developed, please visit our page on the Water Roundtable.
Download the AWS Standard
AWS Training program
While few question the importance of water to our economy, our lifestyles and supporting nature’s health, water stewardship is new to many people.
Starting in 2014, AWS will offer training to organizations and individuals interested in using the Standard or working within the AWS system, including consultants, trainers and auditors. Our aim is to enable organizations from all sectors to access the knowledge they need to advocate for and implement water stewardship.
Key benefits of AWS training
Access the latest knowledge
Developed by leading organizations like The Nature Conservancy, SGS, WWF, Water Stewardship Australia, AWS training is at the leading edge of water stewardship thinking worldwide.
Learn from practical experience
We utilize experience implementing the AWS Standard, helping translate learning into tangible improvements in water use.
Understand your local context
Our network of regional partners will ensure courses respond to local needs.
Get the knowledge you need
A modular approach ensures there is the right course for you, regardless of where you are on your stewardship journey.
Get on track for the AWS standard
Our step-wise approach helps you along your stewardship journey, making the AWS Standard more accessible.
Rooted in experience of implementing the AWS Standard, participants will benefit from real-world experiences of water stewardship on the ground.
Courses will be offered step-wise, from introductory to advanced, with modules on specific topics according to demand.
AWS training will also be delivered via partners and accredited trainers at a regional level. Modules will be customized to meet local needs, and, where possible, integrated into other training programs.
As part of the premier organization on water stewardship, AWS training will be regularly updated, ensuring it remains at the leading edge of water stewardship worldwide
Whether you are a major water user, a regulatory body, a natural resource manager or a civil society group; AWS’s training can give you what you need to advocate for and implement responsible water stewardship.
As shared water challenges increasingly affect businesses, governments, communities and ecosystems, constructive dialogue that generates effective, efficient and equitable solutions is critical.
Membership of AWS offers a platform to share and learn from experiences, and to work collaboratively to promote sustainable water use. Organizations may join as associate or full members, each with different benefits and prices. Fees are designed to be affordable for organizations from both developed and developing countries.
Key benefits of AWS membership
Extend your influence
Backed by many of the world's leading organizations, and drawing on a network of regional partners, AWS offers real influence on water stewardship globally and in your region.
Access unique knowledge
AWS members benefit from discounted training that is tailored for your needs and exclusive access to webinars and events.
Engage diverse stakeholders
AWS's multi-stakeholder membership provides a dedicated platform for sharing water stewardship knowledge and building partnerships with organizations from all sectors.
Enhance your profile
Membership of the world's premier forum for water stewardship allows you to demonstrate your commitment to promoting equitable and sustainable water use.
Design the future
As AWS's highest decision-making body, members will collectively shape the future direction of the AWS Standard system.
AWS will be governed by its members, reflecting the multi-stakeholder participation that is at the heart of water stewardship. Membership is open to all sectors, providing a unique opportunity to shape AWS’s flagship product – the AWS Standard.
Members will also have access to webinars, exclusive events and discounted training.
A diversity of participation with a balanced governance structure helps to ensure a system that is democratic, inclusive and representative of our shared water challenges.
AWS’s network of regional partners enables members to join at either a regional or international level, and still access the best and latest thinking on water stewardship. Please use the links on the right to access more detailed informaiton on AWS membership.
Please visit this page again soon for details of case studies