By Dylan Waldhuetter, Program Manager – AWS North America
As Program Manager for the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), I’m the first point of contact in North America for those interested in learning more about our water stewardship framework and services. Whether it’s a corporate sustainability manager looking to develop a water strategy or facilities engineer looking to implement water stewardship practices at their factory, it’s a common misconception that there’s one blueprint for practicing and implementing good water stewardship practices.
So, considering all the options and great organizations supporting water stewardship, how do you decide where to start and how can AWS North America support you?
The truth is, the path is unique to your organization’s needs. If you’re wondering about your path and how to pick the best place to gain traction and advance your water stewardship program, I’ve outlined the five ways you can engage with AWS North America and the benefits of each.
In no particular order, here we go:
Water is especially unique as a pillar of environmental sustainability because, unlike energy or packaging, it’s something that requires a different level of collaboration and context. Like a milkshake with lots of straws drinking from it, coordination is key for making sure everyone gets their fair share.
Management of water resources requires more than one ‘actor’ to solve or cause water-related problems, so collaboration is key. In addition, the hyper-local nature of water challenges makes context important for determining action. Water stewardship goes beyond traditional site-level water management, to work collaboratively with stakeholders and implement actions considering the context of the watershed.
Recognizing that there’s strength in a common cause, AWS Membership enables us to work together to manage water stewardship challenges and opportunities collectively. Membership is open to any organization of any size and does not come with any certification obligations (although we always encourage it!). Rather, it requires a commitment to continually improving water stewardship outcomes and contributing to the collaborative capacity of our diverse membership.
While we benefit greatly from our members that represent leading companies with strong water stewardship programs, membership can be uniquely valuable if water isn’t yet a priority in your sustainability program. Becoming a member can offer you learning opportunities and access to members with deep water stewardship experience, working with diverse companies, including Apple, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, WWF and World Resources Institute, among 130+ others.
Becoming an AWS member also enables you to publicly signal your organization’s commitment to being a good water steward and contribute to something bigger than your singular, project-based water stewardship goals.
Sound interesting? Take a deeper dive to learn about the program and fees here.
The AWS Standard is at the heart of what we do. It provides a framework for you to understand your physical, regulatory and reputational water risks at your sites and develop a site-specific plan to manage them.
Implementation is for doers: when you are ready to put water stewardship into action, implementing the AWS Standard enables you to meet that goal.
Through a five-step continual improvement framework, the Standard enables sites to commit to, understand, plan, implement, evaluate and communicate water stewardship actions.
If you’re in the ‘do’ stage, you can learn more about the framework and site-specific implementation here.
I don’t know about you, but access to hands-on training from an expert always gets me farther ahead, faster.
Tailored to sustainability managers, site-level facility managers and service/NGO providers, our training can help you advocate for water stewardship, learn how to implement the AWS Standard in your operations or with clients and pursue the AWS Professional Credential to continually improve your water stewardship expertise and make credible claims about your water stewardship knowledge.
The AWS Professional Credential provides an opportunity to keep your awareness and knowledge of water stewardship up to date. It also provides a credible credential for you to demonstrate your water stewardship expertise and contribution to the growth and evolution of water stewardship practices and awareness.
AWS Standard System Training is the entryway to the AWS PC Program. From the foundations of applied water stewardship to detailed principles, you can learn more about our training options here.
If implementing the AWS Standard is for doers, then site certification is for credibly demonstrating your water stewardship action.
Because of the rigor in the standard, certification enables you to make credible claims about your water stewardship actions and sends a powerful message about your commitment to water stewardship to your customers, investors, suppliers, etc.
And, as consumer demand for sustainable products in the supply chain continues to grow, our AWS On-Product Labeling program also enables you to make a credible claim to customers at the point of purchase. Important to note, labeling requires site certification to validate your on-product label claim.
If you’re ready to demonstrate your water stewardship commitment and action, you can learn more about certification here.
Last but not least, AWS North America’s Advisory Services are ideal for when you need help in aligning your corporate water stewardship strategic goals to tactical site-level actions.
We have deep expertise in this area and have helped in the development of water stewardship strategies and policies for multiple Fortune 500 companies.
From corporate gap analysis to developing water-related sustainability policies to alignment and prioritization of site-level actions, we can help you develop a blueprint to drive your water stewardship strategy. Hit me with your challenges to learn more about our services and how we can help you advance.
I hope this list helped you sort through common questions, such as the difference between AWS certification and implementation, how we can be a doorway and backstop to your in-house water stewardship program and how you can get better connected to the water stewardship community.
If you have questions I didn’t answer or you’re ready to engage with AWS in some capacity, let’s connect—I’d welcome hearing from you. You can reach me at dylan@A4WS.com or 414-988-8764.
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