The Alliance for Water Stewardship is committed to measuring sustainability efforts by certified entities at the site, catchment, and organisational levels to evaluate its environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts.

AWS has set about developing its Monitoring & Evaluation System to see how we are doing against our own mission objectives and to begin to understand and learn about the impacts we are having in the world.

The intended effects of the International Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard (known as the AWS Standard) are:

  • Good water governance
  • Healthy status of important water-related areas
  • Good water quality status
  • Sustainable water balance
  • Safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all (WASH)

By impacts, we mean the positive and negative long-term effects resulting from the implementation of a standards system, either directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. View the AWS Measuring Impacts infographic below. You can also read the 2020 AWS Impacts ISEAL Public Summary Report.

What is an M&E System?

An M&E system is defined as an ongoing process through which an organization draws conclusions about its contribution to intended outcomes and impacts. A monitoring and evaluation system consists of a set of interconnected functions, processes and activities, including systematic collection of monitoring data on specified indicators and the implementation of outcome and impact evaluations. To view the M&E Indicator Framework, click on the image below.

AWS M&E Indicator Framework Summary

Scope and Boundaries of our  M&E System

What is included? At the global level the AWS M&E system will monitor the effects of the AWS Theory of Change (ToC) that includes interventions such as: standard development, assurance, capacity building, training and communications.

The AWS governance system, in particular, our stakeholder engagement processes and AWS Complaints and Appeals Procedure will also be included.

The AWS M&E System supports independent researchers in their studies on the AWS Standard System and will consider their findings in our AWS M&E System reporting.

Identifying and Mapping our Stakeholders

Credible sustainability standard organisations engage and consult with stakeholders for a wide variety of reasons and at different stages in their development. In 2009, the first AWS stakeholder mapping exercise was conducted to support the AWS Standard development process. In 2018-2019, a new AWS stakeholder mapping exercise was undertaken to support development of the AWS M&E System.

In 2022, we updated the AWS M&E System Stakeholder Mapping to be inclusive of the entire AWS System, and to reflect changes to the organisational structure of AWS. The results of our stakeholder mapping are presented in the AWS Stakeholder Mapping 2022 Infographic displayed below.

To provide comments and feedback on our stakeholder mapping, please contact Dr. Lisa Bunclark, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator.

Our Theory of Change

A Theory of Change (ToC) articulates what impact or change an organisation is hoping to achieve and how its work brings about that change. Using a ToC approach requires that standards organisations to make their assumptions explicit and to reach consensus with their colleagues and key stakeholders about what they are trying to do and why.

Through 2018/19, AWS undertook a system-wide consultation process to develop a new Theory of Change. AWS views the development of its Theory of Change as an essential and strategic planning management tool. The Theory of Change infographic is shown below.

To provide comments and feedback on our Theory of Change please contact Dr. Lisa Bunclark, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator.

Impact Evaluation

As part of the activities implemented under its M&E System, AWS is initiating a long-term impact evaluation programme to investigate the attributable impacts of the AWS Standard System. As part of this programme, AWS is commissioning a multi-phase in-depth, independent impact evaluation, which will be the first in a series of impact evaluation projects implemented in the coming years. For more information about AWS’s First Impact Evaluation, please see the Project Information Note and Project Concept Note.

AWS Research Agenda

AWS has developed a Research Agenda to guide and focus research about the AWS System. Our intention is to foster collaboration among AWS Members, researchers, investors, funders, industry peers and other stakeholders interested in understanding the impacts of the AWS System. To provide feedback on our new Research Agenda, or to discuss research opportunities, please contact Dr. Lisa Bunclark, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator.

Download the AWS Research Agenda

Performance Monitoring


AWS is an Associated Partner for a four-year research project on water governance called GOVAQUA, led by the Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Roles and Responsibilities

Our M&E programme is coordinated at the AWS International Secretariat level. The Knowledge and Learning Coordinator leads the development of knowledge and learning strategies, systems and projects including the design and establishment of our knowledge management and impact monitoring systems that will be applied across the AWS global network.

For enquiries please contact Dr. Lisa Bunclark, Knowledge and Learning Coordinator.

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Last Updated: April 2023