AWS Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) System


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

AWS has set about developing its M&E 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 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 something quite specific. As an ISEAL Alliance Member we mean the positive and negative long-term effects resulting from the implementation of a standards system, either directly or indirectly, intended or unintended.

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.

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 Standards organizations engage and consult with stakeholders for a wide variety of reasons and at different stages in their development. In August 2018, AWS began a new consultation and stakeholder mapping exercise to understand who the individuals and groups are that have an interest in our activities and organisation. A schematic of the AWS Stakeholder M&E Mapping can be found here.

To provide comments and feedback on our Stakeholder Mapping please contact Christine Carey (AWS Head of Knowledge and Learning).

Our Theory of Change

A Theory of Change (ToC) articulates what impact or change an organization 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.

In August 2018, AWS began a 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. A schematic of our 2017 Theory of Change can be found here and a draft our new Theory of Change will be available soon.

To provide comments and feedback on our new Theory of Change please contact Christine Carey (AWS Head of Knowledge and Learning).

Outcome and Impact Evaluations

In 2017, AWS produced the AWS Impacts Public System Report 2017, which can also be found on our ISEAL Members page.

There are a number of reports published by NGOs, research institutes and intergovernmental organisations on aspects of the AWS Standard System that cover a range of topics from mapping standards systems’ water stewardship requirements to examining corporate water behaviour. Key papers and reports include: Morgan (2017) and Newborne and Dalton (2016).

As of February 2019, AWS is involved in the following research project:

Title: Enabling access to preferential finance terms as an incentive for improving sustainability performance in the agricultural sector

Project Partners: Bonsucro, Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), SRK Consulting and IFC

Description: This project will develop and test methodologies and improve monitoring tools, which reduce Financial Institutions’ (FI’s) lending risks in water risk areas by supplementing the current International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard guided environmental and social risk assessment mechanisms, with specific multi-sector sustainability standards, including Cumulative Impact Assessment and Management elements.

Geographic scope:  The project will target the Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

This is an ISEAL Innovations Funded Project.

Contact: Mark Dent, AWS Training Development Manager email:

At present there are no impact evaluation studies of the AWS System. However, starting in May 2019, AWS and partners will begin a process to identify research projects and funding for an impact evaluation of the AWS System. To get in touch or to work with us please contact Christine Carey AWS Head of Knowledge & Learning

Roles and Responsibilities

Our M&E programme is coordinated at the AWS International Secretariat level. The Head of Knowledge and Learning leads on 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 AWS Head of Knowledge & Learning.

Last Updated: February 2019