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New Assurance Model

Alliance for Water Stewardship / New Assurance Model

Strengthening credibility, enhancing value, and driving growth with integrity

Following a comprehensive review, and in response to stakeholder feedback, we are taking steps to modernise our assurance model. These revisions will further strengthen the credibility of AWS certification while providing an improved experience for all sites seeking certification to the AWS Standard.

Key benefits include:

    • More robust and effective oversight of assurance processes
    • A new digital platform providing a simpler user experience
    • Enhanced training for auditors and audit teams
    • Stronger alignment with monitoring and evaluation requirements
    • Greater consistency in interpretation and reporting

A mission-driven organisation

Central to this modernisation is the establishment of a new mission-driven organisation, which will be the sole Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) for the AWS System. Several other leading standard schemes use similar models of assurance, including Fairtrade.

Currently AWS International (as the standard scheme owner) plays a critical role in conducting oversight of CABs. This work is to ensure that CABs meet the requirements set by AWS and deliver assurance services of the highest standard.

The new CAB will be a subsidiary of AWS International and driven by the same goals as AWS. This will align the goals of our assurance model with the rest of the AWS System. The new CAB will fulfill the same functions as our currently accredited CABs, with AWS International continuing to set requirements, conduct oversight, and ensure the robustness of assurance services.

Ensuring impartiality

Independent certification will remain a central pillar of the AWS assurance model. AWS International (as the standard scheme owner) will play no part in certification decisions. This will be evidenced by AWS remaining in full compliance with the ISEAL Assurance Code (ISEAL is the global membership organisation for credible sustainability standards). The new CAB will also seek to be accredited to ISO 17065, the globally accepted accreditation norm for certification bodies.

Strengthening credibility

As the standard scheme owner, a critical role of AWS International is to conduct robust oversight of CAB performance. This is vital in maintaining the credibility of the AWS System. As adoption of AWS certification grows, maintaining close oversight over multiple CABs presents significant challenges and risks.

With a single mission-driven CAB, our ability to ensure robust oversight of assurance processes will be strengthened, as will our agility to respond to learnings in a rapidly changing operating environment. The revised assurance model will generate more effective learning pathways, enabling AWS International to respond to new knowledge and insights. Any subsequent changes, for example, if AWS International determines that audit team competence requirements need to be strengthened, will be more effectively and consistently implemented through a single CAB.

New IT platform

The introduction of a new digital platform will enable a consistent and efficient certification process across all sites, as well as providing an improved user experience. Sites seeking certification will be given access to the digital platform and guidance on its use.

What does this mean for sites?

    • The new CAB will be fully operational from 1 January 2022
    • Sites seeking to be audited before 1 January 2022 should therefore engage with their existing CABs as normal
    • From 1 October 2021, new contracts for certification services must be established with the new CAB
    • Sites seeking to contract services for initial certification audits after 1 January 2022 should contact AWS for further guidance, via the email below
    • Sites whose certificates expire after 1 January 2022 should engage with the new assurance model for re-certification
    • For further guidance, please contact us.

Further information

For more information, please download our latest communication for AWS Members, including a short Q&A:

Further details will be provided to all stakeholders in AWS in due course, including the steps current and future certified sites will need to take.

Contact us

We will be regularly updating this page, so please check here for the latest information on the new Assurance Model. Alternatively, please sign up for the AWS newsletter.

For more information and guidance, or to have a confidential discussion with our staff, please contact us using the form below.

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