Agriculture is known to account for around 70% of global freshwater use. Good water stewardship in agricultural supply chains is vital to support water security around the world.
Agricultural supply chains are complex, with a wide range of different actors, from investors, brands, retailers, and producers, through to local suppliers, cooperatives and smallholder farmers. At each level of the supply chain, water stewardship creates different opportunities for building resilience, reducing risk and working collectively to overcome water-related challenges.
But there are also different challenges facing the various stakeholders involved in this sector: for some, the sheer volume of suppliers to engage with, or the complexity of commodity trading, makes identifying the first step into water stewardship seem overwhelming. For others, a challenging local operating context, or competing demands from customers and clients, makes prioritizing action on water more difficult. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to water stewardship in agriculture.
Agriculture Working Group
Our work in agriculture is designed around two complementary approaches, informed by global value chains and driven by best practice laid out by the AWS Standard.
At a global level, we run a multi-stakeholder Agriculture Working Group. This group is comprised of AWS Members from the agriculture sector and their partners, who work with us to identify barriers to scaled adoption of AWS water stewardship and to create and implement solutions to overcome these barriers. Together, we also share insight on potential locations for supply chain collaboration, which informs our national-level activities. Membership and a commitment to certification are no pre-requisites to join the working group, but we hope that demonstrating the value of AWS through engagement with the working group will lead to greater uptake of AWS Membership and Certification.
At a national level, informed by our knowledge of agricultural supply chains, we seek to catalyze greater uptake of AWS water stewardship by engaging stakeholders through national or regional platforms for water stewardship. Locations for action are chosen based on supply chain clusters facing high water risks, identified by the global working group and through our members and partners. Typical activities undertaken by the national platforms include: running AWS Standard System Training to build capacity for water stewardship, developing local resources to help contextualize AWS and building relationships with civil society and public sector agencies to ensure private sector AWS implementation is embedded within a local multi-stakeholder dialogue.
In addition to our global and national activities, AWS also has strategic partnerships with AWS Members who have an interest in the agriculture sector. These partners demonstrate leadership amongst their peers by working with AWS to engage others in their sector by raising awareness of water risk and demonstrating the validity of the AWS Standard as global best practice water stewardship in their sector.
Any organization from the agriculture sector interested in learning more about water stewardship is encouraged to get in touch, using the contact form below.
More in Priority Sectors
Find out more about our work in each of the four priority business sectors