About the Alliance for Water Stewardship

AWS is a global membership-based collaboration. We unite organizations behind our mission: To lead a global network that promotes responsible use of freshwater that is socially and economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable.

We achieve this through a global water stewardship system, centered on the International Water Stewardship Standard (the AWS Standard), that drives, recognizes and rewards good water stewardship performance.

Our vision is that Water users and managers are responsible water stewards, who protect and enhance freshwater resources for people and nature.

The AWS Standard provides a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context.


Our members are drawn from all sectors: leading businesses, non-profits, public sector agencies and academic institutes. By connecting organizations at the forefront of collaboration on water, AWS membership acts as a forum to exchange learning and advance the uptake of water stewardship worldwide. This knowledge helps our members to continually refine their own stewardship practices. Our members shape the development of AWS processes so as to be responsive to the learning generated and changing nature of water challenges.


The global AWS network is fueled by information from a growing number of local water stewardship networks, coordinated by our regional partners and representatives. Local water stewardship networks serve to engage local stakeholders and build the capacity to facilitate contextually-appropriate water stewardship actions within the globally-consistent framework of the AWS Standard.

The AWS Standard system includes third party certification and a network of accredited professional service providers to support and assess the implementation of the Standard. The AWS Standard system is overseen by a multi-stakeholder governance structure.

What is Water Stewardship?

Stewardship is about taking care of something that we do not own. Stewardship approaches that focus on the management of common pool resources like forests, fisheries or, in our case, freshwater resources, are based on the principle of collective accountability 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 are within the site and under the responsibility of the site management.

External actions happen 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.

Learn more about AWS

Our team


Adrian Sym

Chief Executive
``We help organizations across the world to work collaboratively to address shared water challenges ``

Our team consists of an international staff and board. In addition, we are a member-based organization, consisting of private sector, public sector, and civil society groups.

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