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The EWS provides a voluntary, applicable system to change the behaviour and practices of all water users towards sustainable water management. It is an integrative system for business and agriculture to assess, verify, and communicate sustainable water management practices.

The European Water Partnership (EWP) is an independent value based non-profit organization and owner of the European Water Stewardship (EWS) Standard.

EWS encourages industry and agriculture to become water stewards, by assessing, acting and improving the way they use and manage water in a holistic way. Amongst the tools provided, is a certification process, the EWS standard, which allows users to not only mitigate their physical, regulatory and reputational risks but also to share their journey on the way to stewardship with investors, consumers and their communities.

EWS refers to the following definition of stewardship. This statement can be considered as key and the core of the certification process:

“The use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that involves site- and catchment-based actions. Good water stewards understand their own water use, catchment context and shared risk in terms of water governance, water balance, water quality and important water-related areas; and then engage in meaningful individual and collective actions that benefit people and nature.”

Underlining this, EWS’s goals are to:

  • Provide incentives for companies and individuals to evolve the manner in which they use, manage and regulate water by becoming a water steward.
  • Allow companies to demonstrate that they produce their products responsibly and in harmony with the natural environment.
  • Provide a tool to achieve holistic sustainable water management.
  • Prepare the private sector for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).
  • Support water users to communicate and report on their water use.
  • Promote a shift from supply management to a balanced supply and demand management through information, education and training.

The EWS standard is divided into 4 core principles, with 14 criteria and 53 indicators covering the following areas of sustainable water management:

  • Achieve and maintain sustainable water abstraction in terms of water quantity.
  • Ensure the achievement and maintenance of good water status in terms of chemical quality and biological elements.
  • Restore and preserve water-cycle related High Conservation Value (HCV) areas.
  • Achieve equitable and transparent water governance.

These indicators are divided into three categories:

  • MAJOR – necessary for compliance.
  • MINOR – an organisation can choose which to comply with.
  • RECOMMENDATION – proposed as continuous improvement measures, as they generally require more time for compliance.

SGS provides assessment services and certification based on the European Water Stewardship (EWS) standard. We cover industry and agriculture by integrating our expert auditors into the EWS audit process. Furthermore, we conduct water footprint calculations and sediment runoff prevention studies. In addition, we can provide field preparation and fertility management, as well as an extensive international network for water, manure, waste and soil testing and analysis.

Read more articles of our Seed and Crop Newsletter - February 2014.

For further information, please contact:

Bruno widmer
Agriculture Audit & Certification Manager
SGS Geneva
1 Places Des Alpes
1211 Geneva
t:+41 (22) 739 94 68