Water Stewardship Australia Newsletter February 2016 
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Both Water Stewardship Australia (WSA) and the international Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) have been reviewing their strategies over the past two months. AWS will focus on building participation and ownership of the AWS water stewardship system while maintaining the credibility of the system. This translates into three key goals: (1) The AWS system is robust and credible. It enables, recognises and rewards good water stewardship; (2) AWS water stewardship is a globally recognised brand that attracts participants and drives participation; (3) AWS has the financial capacity and people capability to deliver Goals 1 & 2 and build global participation. WSA will focus on being highly valued for providing a collaborative way for businesses, governments and communities to define and deliver great water stewardship outcomes in Australia and the Indo-Pacific region; it will ensure that locally relevant water stewardship outcomes are embedded in the AWS international water stewardship system, and supporting delivery and implementation of water stewardship in the region. Further information is being prepared for both AWS and WSA members.


WSA is preparing to offer joint membership of both WSA and AWS. Members of WSA will be offered AWS membership at a significantly discounted rate. Details will be posted shortly but organisations interested in joint membership should contact WSA on info@waterstewardship.org.au. Members of WSA/AWS will have the privileges of membership of both organisations and, for example, be invited to participate in the first AWS International Members Forum scheduled for November in Edinburgh, Scotland.


WSA has scheduled a three-day training program for Adelaide on the 4th - 6th of April. The program will offer three levels of training; Foundation, Advanced and Specialist. Foundation Training is an introductory program designed to enable participants to start on their water stewardship journey. Advanced Training offers a more detailed program for people working in organisations implementing a water stewardship program or people wanting to offer AWS accredited services. The third day, Specialist Training, is specifically for people interested in offering services as an auditor, consultant or trainer. It includes working with AWS accreditation and certification standards as well as the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard. For more information see our website and to reserve your place in the course please contact Megan on info@waterstewardship.org.au.


Demonstrating the business benefits of good water stewardship is an important focus for the water stewardship trial being undertaken with the Renmark Irrigation Trust. The trust includes about 600 irrigators producing grapes, citrus, stone fruit, almond and other crops. A trial group of 10 irrigators will participate. As well as achieving the stated outcomes of the water stewardship system – sustainable water balance, good water quality, healthy ecosystems and cultural places and good water governance – the trial is hoping to demonstrate that water stewardship businesses are good business. In this context, good businesses have a lower water risk exposure, stronger brand and improved efficiency that delivers demonstrable outcomes at the bottom line. It is a challenging project as often the business benefits of social and environmental programs are difficult to measure. Other collaborators in the project are WSA member the National Australia Bank, the Goyder Institute, Waterfind and the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board. The driver for the project is to enhance community resilience in the Riverland.


A new report suggests the areas of the globe suffering serious water stress are much more extensive that previously thought. Researchers at the University of Twente found that four billion people or two thirds of the world’s population face water shortages for at least one month every year. The report based on a study dividing the world into 2,000 square kilometre grids was published in the journal Science Advances and reported in the New York Times.  This report follows release of the 11th Edition of the World Global Risks Report. Risk of water crisis remains one of the greatest risks sitting near failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation and large-scale involuntary migration. 

In this context, water stewardship was recognised for the second year running as one of the top 10 ideas in water – although this year the list, compiled by Delloite US freshwater lead Will Sarni, is referred to as the good news on water.

Sarni’s report mentions water stewardship and the Alliance for Water Stewardship twice! Kicking off 2016, WSA Executive Secretary Michael Spencer and Asia Pacific Regional Manager Zhenzhen Xu, together with Ecolab executive Ma Xi have had a collaborative article on water stewardship published by China Water Risk. The article tells the story of the development of water stewardship and how it has been used by Ecolab in China to address water risks in a way that was consistent with their business goals. Ecolab’s Taicang plant near Shanghai was the first in the world to be independently certified against the AWS Water Stewardship Standard.


The Water Stewardship Australia office has been energised by the recruitment of several volunteers and interns. Kevin, a Masters of Environment student at Melbourne University, has completed a Catchment Analyst internship with us. The role of the Catchment Analyst focusses around Step 2 of the Standard: gathering and understanding catchment information and helping to distil the important aspects for site managers. One of our Directors and member of the International Standards Development Committee, Prof. John Langford, has also been providing expert review of this work, which will provide feedback to the Guidance for applying Step 2 of the Standard. We also welcome a Communications Volunteer, Jenny, who is studying International Relations at Melbourne University, and Finance Volunteer, Alex, a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) graduate from Deakin University. Both are providing valuable support to our existing team, Michael (Executive Secretary), Megan (Project and Administration Manager), Nigam (Project Management Volunteer) and Board.


As part of its Indo-Pacific Water Stewardship Project, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), WSA and AWS have been actively building water stewardship networks in India and China. Late last year AWS Executive Director Adrian Sym launched the India Water Stewardship Network in Delhi. It brought together a range of interested parties from business, government and civil society with a view to building a local organisation that can promote participation in the water stewardship system. The network is due to have its second meeting in Delhi next week having generated good interest from local groups. 

Meanwhile in China, Regional Director Zhenzhen Xu has recently moved into a new WSA office in Shanghai. She is also continuing to build interest in a local network that would expand on the existing partnership between WSA, WWF China, Green Zhejiang and provincial government agencies. 

The working committee has scheduled its first meeting in March to discuss concrete steps for developing the China Network. Xu has also finished registration of a Chinese organisation that will provide a legal basis for WSA’s future activities in China. WSA has also been invited by Green Zhejiang to open a second office in China in a specialist water and innovation industrial park in Zhejiang. Green Zhejiang has been appointed to manage the park by the local municipal government. Inspecting the park recently WSA Secretary met municipal officials and inspected a textile printing and dying plant. Pollution from textile printing and dying is a major challenge for government in China and WSA has been invited to contribute to a solution. At the same time, WSA is working with officials in Jiangsu province on water pollution issues facing the Taihu Lake. The Taihu basin near Shanghai and Nanjing is a 3,000 km2 lake with pollution issues that can impact a regional economy which generates 12 per cent of Chinese GDP. Spencer was invited to speak about water stewardship at a Taihu Forum of industry and civil society leaders in Wuxi just prior to Christmas.


During his recent visit to China WSA Executive Secretary Michael Spencer also conducted a three-day training program on water stewardship for people working in public policy, academia, consulting, industry and agriculture. The program was conducted on a small tea farm just outside Nanjing. Discussions around the training explored the role of water stewardship in dealing with non-point-source pollution from agriculture. The AWS Group Certification Scheme was seen as an important tool to engage village level participants from small agricultural operations. Group certification is also generating considerable interest in India, Australia and Africa. WSA is preparing a tailored presentation on group certification to facilitate these discussions.

Copyright © 2016 Alliance for Water Stewardship Asia-Pacific, All rights reserved.

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