Water stewardship

Concern about water in the private sector is rising rapidly. Companies worldwide are recognising that water is an essential ingredient in their business operations and the lack of access to sufficient water quantities or quality is posing a material risk to a growing number of companies. Water stewardship is one way a company can manage the complexities of balancing their own water use with the needs of communities and nature.

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.

Alliance for Water Stewardship

Becoming a water steward allows companies to understand all their water related risks – physical, reputational, financial and regulatory – and implement strategies that minimise those risks and promote the business’s long-term sustainability.

Water Footprint Assessment provides a sound foundation of quantitative analysis, which can be used to develop a corporate water strategy and become a water steward.


A Water Footprint Assessment includes two components: the production assessment and the geographic assessment. Each of these contributes to water stewardship.

The production assessment enriches the dialogue between companies, their suppliers and customers by quantifying the water footprint of operations and the supply chain and identifying at what stage within the value chain the water footprint is in a hotspot. A hotspot is where the water footprint is unsustainable or can be reduced or avoided altogether.

A company can use Water Footprint Assessment to compare its direct and indirect water footprint and the sustainability of its various water footprint components to help prioritize response strategies and set water footprint reduction targets which become part of the company’s corporate water strategy.

Once hotspots are identified, the geographic assessment can be used to understand how water is allocated between different uses in a catchment or river basin. The assessment can inform collective action by helping companies explore their water footprint and the opportunities to reduce it. It supports civil society engagement in river basin dialogues by building their understanding of the issues and it assists government in having a comprehensive picture of water use within the basin.

Water stewardship is a collaborative and multi-stakeholder approach that aims to achieve social, environmental and economic benefits. By using Water Footprint Assessment, a company can ensure that all stakeholders are well informed and good river basin governance is developed.

Use the Water Footprint Assessment Tool to undertake a production assessment or a geographic assessment of your business.

Additional information on water stewardship can also be found at:

Alliance for Water Stewardship: provides a globally-consistent framework that outlines the expectations of responsible water stewardship.

CEO Water Mandate Water Disclosure Guidelines: provides comprehensive guidelines of what needs to be measured, monitored and disclosed by companies reporting on water.

CDP Water Questionnaire: incorporates the CEO Water Mandate guidelines in its information request.