The draft European Water Stewardship Standard defines requirements for sustainable water management and includes a list of indicators which may be used for reporting and certification.
Its underlying principles for water management include good governance, chemical quality, and issues related to water abstraction.
Indicators range from water recycling efficiency, awareness raising and the link between water and energy productivity.
The standard was developed via a multi-stakeholder process involving partners from business and civil society. It was supported by public authorities. Participants gathered in working groups that sought to identify sector-specific needs in agriculture, industry, tourism and urban areas.
Chemicals, paper and beverage production
The standard is currently open for public consultation until 12 September, but it is also being exposed to pilot testing by sector-specific organisations to determine its practical applicability under on-site conditions.
Pilots on a BASF chemicals production site in Germany, a paper mill in Madrid and a Coca-Cola bottling plant are currently underway and should conclude with feedback by October. Pilots in agricultural farms are currently being prepared and are due to start in October. EWP also hopes to get cities and urban areas to test the standard in the near future.
The draft will be revised in the light of the consultation and pilot studies and will only be made widely available afterwards.
Towards a global standard
EWP hopes to see the draft evolve into a major tool to support the development of sustainable water use and management in Europe.
While the standard is currently focused on Europe, it will be valid on a global scale across sectors, the EWP notes.
Sabine von Wiren-Lehr, coordinator of the EWP Water Stewardship Programme, told EurActiv that the water sector wants to avoid "the carbon disaster" of having different standards to measure water use in different countries and sectors.
Therefore, global talks are underway in the framework of the international Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) to coordinate work towards a single global standard, she said.