Q&A with Manuel Yzaga
26 May 2023
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The AWS Water Stewardship Prize is awarded to an individual who has shown commitment and innovation to the AWS Mission.
Winners of the prize are leaders that promote the responsible use of freshwater that is socially and economically beneficial and environmentally sustainable. At this year’s AWS Forum, we were pleased to announce Manuel Yzaga, CEO of Vanguard Peru, as the winner.
As CEO, Manuel sees taking care of people and water as an important part of his role at Vanguard Peru. In his fight for sustainable management of the Ica Valley, he has championed water stewardship. His work with others in the region has helped to tie water to the things that matter most to the community, such as helping to raise people out of poverty and soccer (as soccer fields require water for grass). In addition, as the president of PROVID (a union for table grape producers in Peru), his local-level leadership on water has not only influenced other companies in the region but has extended into the country’s wider agricultural export industry.
We caught up with Manuel after the Forum to hear a little bit more about the importance of water and get his insights on the value of water stewardship.
To set the scene a little, can you briefly share with us the importance of water in the agriculture industry in Peru and the context for why water stewardship is needed?
The private sector is a great engine of our economy. Industry and Agriculture are two of its great pillars.
The Peruvian state cannot keep up with the communication and water infrastructure at the necessary speed to support the development of industries and agriculture in our country. Therefore, we are seeing a gap between the use of the water resources and aquifer recharge.
It is for this reason that we must come together, the private and the public sectors, in order to understand each other´s challenges, to develop a strategic plan that provides country sustainability for our development starting from water with honest, ethical and intelligent care. Water stewardship, from my perspective, promotes bringing together all actors for a better future, with the objective to create wellness for all.
How did you first become interested in water stewardship?
Peru as a country needs to restore trust among Peruvians. I saw AWS as an independent party; an entity that could audit us and speak honestly about all our efforts to make Peru a good country to live in, through responsible use and care of water from the catchment level down to us, as users.
What benefits from water stewardship have you seen in Ica?
We are one of seven companies with AWS certified sites in Peru; we are the ‘motherships’ that are paving the way on water stewardship. Companies that will follow our example will be able to make credible claims of their good practices once they are certified.
What does winning the AWS Water Stewardship Prize mean to you?
This awesome AWS Water Stewardship Prize means everything to me. It means that all our team’s efforts at Vanguard Peru are moving us in the right direction. This prize is not only ours, it’s also for all the Ica Region and specially for the other companies implementing water stewardship and getting sites certified against the AWS Standard.
Looking ahead, how will you continue to support and champion water stewardship in Peru and globally?
We are finalising our annual report, showing our commitment to the AWS Standard. We will communicate it as much as we can in order to invite others to join in on water stewardship. We will offer guidance and help on fulfilling their improvement needs, based on our experiences from our water stewardship journey across the different sites that we work at. We will continue to invite other stakeholder to be part of our journey, both locally and globally.