Tuesday, 13 March 2012 17:22

Alliance for water stewardship releases draft for public comment

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World’s first International Water Stewardship Standard aims to provide water users with a credible means to evaluate water impact and implement joint solutions across all sectors and regions 

The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), a global multi-stakeholder  organization dedicated to promoting the responsible use of freshwater globally, today released the first draft of its International Water Stewardship Standard at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France. The AWS Standard, which is now open for public input, aims to support water users in taking appropriate actions to evaluate and improve their impacts on watersheds. It aims to build on other water-related tools, helping users to reduce their water risk and generate social, environmental and economic benefits. The Standard is designed for global application in all relevant sectors.

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. The Standard recognizes both performance and process, aiming to both ensure rigour and maximize uptake. The Standard is accompanied with guidance materials for interpretation and, ultimately, a third-party verification system.

Following today’s release, this first draft Standard will be open for a formal 90-day public consultation period during which stakeholders are encouraged to submit feedback through the  AWS website. In addition, AWS will use this 90-day period to organize regional and international events to introduce the Standard to stakeholders, ensure understanding of both the process and content, and receive feedback from individuals and institutions. This period may be extended in order to ensure balanced stakeholder input. Feedback via the AWS website and stakeholder events will be passed to the ISDC and will inform subsequent drafts of the Standard. To view the standard and provide a comment between now and June 15, 2012, please visit the AWS website at http://allianceforwaterstewardship.org. 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 being developed through an ISEAL Alliance standard-setting process that follows the best-practice model for developing social and environmental standards. 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. This committee, the International Standard Development Committee, uses input from stakeholders around the world, including that gathered by AWS regional initiatives.

The water roundtable is central to the work of AWS, whose board organizations are The Nature Conservancy, Water Stewardship Australia, the Pacific Institute, WWF, Water Witness International, the Water Environment Federation, the European Water Partnership,  the International Water Management Institute, the UN Global Compact’s CEO Water  Mandate, and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

“CEPI has been an active partner in the development of a globally harmonised understanding of Water Stewardship as a member of the International Standard Development Committee and the European Water Stewardship process. The launch of the draft global standard is an important step for the European paper industry and the start of a stakeholder process defining good water stewardship operations”, said Marco Mensink, CEPI Deputy Director General. 

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