Water Stewardship in Agriculture

Alliance for Water Stewardship / Priority Sectors  / Agriculture / Water Stewardship in Agriculture


Water is a crucial ingredient for growing fruits, vegetables and other crops, with around 70% of global freshwater used for agriculture. With changes in climate, sustainably managing water will be essential to ensuring continued crop production.

Many strategies focus on site-level water management, but addressing all of the sector’s water risks — from water scarcity impacting crop yields to a lack of safe water for workers — requires us to think beyond the fenceline. It requires an understanding of how water impacts are felt across complex agricultural supply chains.

The Alliance for Water Stewardship provides a systematic and auditable approach to guide your water stewardship journey, along with the tools, expertise and helping hands needed to implement the AWS Standard across value chains.


Global climate change, growing economies and changing lifestyles are putting increasing pressure on the earth’s limited freshwater resources. Water stewardship is a holistic approach for using and protecting the water we all depend on.

Our approach to water stewardship not only ensures that the most important water risks are managed but also provides a mechanism to inspire conversations and action among those entities sharing water resources. The result: stronger stakeholder relationships and an increase in a community’s collective resilience.


The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) exists to tackle the urgent global challenges driven by water insecurity. Our mission is to ignite and nurture global and local leadership in credible water stewardship that recognises and secures freshwater’s social, cultural, environmental and economic value.

Learn more about us by reading the AWS Strategy 2022-2030: Accelerating Impact.

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AWS is two mutually supportive things:

1. A sustainability standard system

  • The International Water Stewardship Standard (AWS Standard) is a globally applicable framework for major water users to understand, measure and advance their water stewardship performance.
  • Built on a five-step process that guides water users to consider the most critical water impacts (see diagram).
  • Driven by five outcomes: good water governance; sustainable water balance; good water quality status; important water-related areas (IWRAs) and water, sanitation and hygiene for all (WASH).
  • Developed to implement on any site or within any catchment, sector or geography.
  • Underpinned by third-party certification to enable sites to make credible claims on their water stewardship performance.
  • Fully compliant with ISEAL, the global alliance for credible standard systems.

2. A multi-stakeholder membership-based alliance

AWS and its members support the adoption and promotion of the AWS Standard. Our collaborative network works hand-in-hand towards the same goals: using water stewardship to protect the shared water resources we all rely on.

We support action on two levels:

  • Global: We raise awareness and driver water user engagement worldwide.
  • Local: We build capacity and momentum by connecting AWS-implementing sites with stakeholders and activities.


Read our case studies highlighting learnings on implementing water stewardship in the agriculture sector:

Agricultural company uses AWS Certification to lead regional water stewardship: Agrícola Chapi

Agrícola Chapi is an agricultural company in Peru which exports fresh produce such as asparagus, grapes and avocados to European, North American, Asian, and Australian markets. Despite unforeseen challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Agrícola Chapi received AWS core certification in 2022. This case study demonstrates how agricultural companies can create a pathway to water stewardship and makes contributions to the understanding of water stewardship in Latin America.

The World’s First AWS Group Certification: Ci Técnicas Baltime de Colombia S.A.

German food retailer, EDEKA in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) worked with one of their suppliers – Dole Food Company, one of the largest suppliers of fruit and vegetables in the world – to implement the AWS Standard at 11 privately owned banana farms in Colombia. These farms are all managed by CI Técnicas Baltime de Colombia S.A and are large-scale farms, employing hundreds of people. Together they implemented the AWS Standard to achieve the world’s first AWS Group Certification, becoming water stewardship leaders. The experiences shared in this case study can help inform other sites seeking AWS Group Certification.


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