Environmentally sustainable water use maintains ecological processes at the watershed level. Socially beneficial water use recognises basic human needs and ensures long-term benefits for society. With projections that at least half of the world’s population could be living in areas of high water stress by 2030, ISEAL associate member Alliance for Water Stewarship (AWS) is developing its International Water Stewardship Standard to define actions for sustainable water use. Different from traditional farm-level approaches, the standard aims to address shared water risks and stimulate watershed-level change by making collaboration with other stakeholders a requirement for compliance. The AWS programme will recognise and reward water users and managers who take steps to minimise the impacts of their water use.
Several ISEAL members also address water issues within their sector or crop-specific standards. For example, ISEAL associate member Bonsucro, which has developed a standard for sugarcane production, emphasises water quality and water consumption targets both on the farm and in milling/processing. In the cattle standard of ISEAL member Rainforest Alliance / Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), ranches are required to reduce their negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems through physical barriers and adequate water within the pasture.