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ISDC of AWS has its first meeting in Sri Lanka

Aug 19th, 2011 |

From 11 – 13 July 2011, the International Standard Development Committee of AWS held its first meeting, hosted by IWMI Headquarters, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Lesha Witmer (steering committee member Women for Water Partnership and steering committee member EWS), and Carlo Galli (Nestle) participated. Marco Mensink (Deputy Director General, Confederation of European Paper Industries and SC member EWS), was not able to be there.

All three were appointed in June 2011 as members of the ISDC after a rigorous (s) election process, representing the European region/ regional initiative and “business” or women major group respectively.

ISDC is the multi-stakeholder governance body at the heart of the International Water Stewardship Standard’s development, charged by the Alliance on water stewardship with integrating regional input from businesses, water service providers, civil society and the public sector. From 40 nominees from every region of the globe and stakeholder group, AWS selected an initial group of 12 individuals; ultimately composed of 15 individuals, 3 spots still to fill.[1]

EWP joined the Alliance on Water Stewardship (AWS) from the start in 2009 and is a board member. The AWS, working with engaged stakeholders from around the world, is providing a global platform for both the development of a water stewardship system and the organization to house the system. At the heart of the work is the development of standards and a certification program. AWS will strive to create a program that recognizes and rewards water users and managers who take major steps to minimize their water use and impacts. The ISDC is charged by the AWS with the development of the International Water Stewardship Standard (IWSS) and reach consensus around the content, incorporating stakeholder input through Regional Convenors and Pilot Test Bodies, and (electronic) public input.

The meeting in Sri Lanka was mainly aimed at “setting the stage” for future work: getting to know each other, elaborate on the Terms of Reference and the first draft of the work plan, clarify tasks at hand.

The main outcome of the meeting:

1. The ISDC affirmed the significance and importance of water as a critical input in our daily lives and economic activities, and affirmed that water stewardship has the potential to bring about lasting social, economic and environmental benefits.

2. The International Water Stewardship Standard must include both performance – and process based aspects and should acknowledge and reward effort (process) as well as achievement (performance).  Measure of conformity with the Standard therefore will relate to the actions within the control of the entity seeking to apply the Standard, as well as their efforts to engage with stakeholders at the watershed level.

3.  The ISDC will strive for the Standard to be able to be used by all public and private water users, regardless of size and type of use.  Different levels/ grading might be necessary.

4. The ISDC confirmed the need and importance for an International Water Stewardship Standard.

5.  The Standard may take into consideration existing water stewardship thinking (including documents, tools, frameworks, guidelines, and other standards), may not have to reinvent the wheel, and strive to not be too “bureaucratic”

6.  The interaction of regulation (laws and policies) and the Standard is complex and needs to be carefully considered and properly addressed. There was recognition of the need to comply with regulation while simultaneously striving for innovative ways to complement and improve regulation.

7.  The Standard will be something new and different, that raises the bar of water stewardship, but should not result to contravene the laws and International Treaties.

8.  The social/environmental/economic framework that underpins AWS’s definition of water stewardship is a good beginning point for developing the Standard’s framework.

9. Involving all stakeholders in the process is critical and must remain in focus in the Water Roundtable process.

10.  Other models and certification systems (such as ISO) are important to consider. Such standard setting efforts and organizations will offer reference for (but not determine) the Standard, and were also recognized as important to gain traction at the country level for uptake in the longer term

The next meeting will be held in Latin America in October 2011.

For additional information and means to participate, please visit: and

[1] The AWS Board will seek to fill the remaining three open positions on the ISDC by September, 2011. Accordingly, any interested parties, and especially those from Asia Pacific, Central Asia, North Asia and South Asia, from Business and the Public Sector, should submit applications to Nicole Tanner (, which will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Click here for the full article

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