Certification demonstrates that a site has successfully completed each of the steps in the AWS Standard. Certificate holders tell us that achieving AWS certification brings demonstrable benefits in regards of relationships with customers, increased investor confidence, strengthened social license to operate, brand perception and dialogue with regulators and policy makers.

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Why get certified?

Certification is confirmation of having met the global benchmark for responsible water stewardship. Implementing the AWS Standard without certification will certainly help you address water challenges but only independent verification and certification can provide the assurance to external and internal stakeholders that your claims of good water stewardship are credible. Retail customers, wholesalers, consumers, government agencies, regulators, NGO’s, local civil society organizations, local communities, investors and development financiers are just some of the audiences that certificate holders use AWS Standard certification to demonstrate the efficacy of their water stewardship practice to.

6 steps to certification 

Your route to certification has six key steps:

  1. Familiarise your site with the AWS Standard and commit to implement and certify
  2. Complete and submit the site registration form on page ‘Register your site with AWS’
  3. Implement the AWS Standard, either alone or with an AWS accredited consultant
  4. Contract an AWS accredited conformity assessment body (CAB)
  5. Get your site audited and address any gaps highlighted
  6. Get your site’s AWS certification

AWS Standard certificates are issued independently of the site, its owners and AWS by neutral, expert, third-party conformity assessment bodies (CABs) who have achieved AWS accreditation. Only AWS Accredited CABs are authorized to issue AWS certificates. A site’s certificate will be valid for three years, subject to successful surveillance audits.

Core, Gold and Platinum

There are three levels of AWS Standard certification that a site may achieve: Core, Gold and Platinum. All core criteria must be met as a minimum requirement for certification. Additional points are awarded for performance against the advanced criteria. The greater the number of points achieved the higher the level of water stewardship performance and AWS certification.

Advanced criteria and higher-level certification were introduced to recognise that good water stewards seek continual improvement and commit to ongoing action to respond to the ever-evolving nature of local water context. Gold and Platinum status are rewards / recognition of those sites that push their water stewardship performance to elite level.

The points required for each certification level are:

AWS Core: 0 – 39 points

AWS Gold: 40 – 79 points

AWS Platinum: 80 or more points

Why do I have to use an Accredited Conformity Assessment Body (CAB)?

At its heart certification is about assurance – assurance for the site, for its owners, for the wide range of the sites external stakeholders and for stakeholders in the AWS System. To ensure the efficacy and credibility of certification AWS maintains an assurance system to regulate credible certification and claims.

AWS assesses and approves conformity assessment bodies (CABs) to audit sites against the requirements of the AWS Standard.  Accredited CABs can then contract their services to sites seeking certification. Sites, owners, stakeholders and AWS can then be assured that assessments and certifications provided by CABs are accurate. The AWS Accreditation scheme also covers Consultancies and Training Organisations, you can find out more here. It is mandatory to use an AWS Accredited CAB or Training Organisation and we strongly recommend that implementers also use Accredited or Professionally Credentialed Consultants. 

The AWS Assurance System is consistent with the ISEAL Assurance Code, lending consistency, rigour, competence, impartiality, transparency, and accessibility.  The AWS Assurance System Report contains more information on this.

How much does certification cost?

Conformity assessment bodies are professional, independent entities providing auditing and certification services to sites and their owners. Typically, CABs will have experience of auditing other social and environmental standards, as well as AWS.

AWS is never involved in the contractual relationship between the CAB and the site. This is essential to ensure the credibility of independent verification and certification. Site’s contract CABs on a commercial basis. As such AWS cannot advise or be involved in fee structures or fee discussions. These are always negotiated between the client and CAB.


Site owners with multiple sites tell us that they typically tender CAB relationships and develop contracts with a chosen CAB for multiple sites with the overall fee negotiated on numbers of sites, location, complexity and other factors. A list of accredited CABs with contact details can be viewed here.