LAHORE (Staff Report) – WWF-Pakistan, in collaboration with Nestlé Pakistan, hosted a Water Symposium and Launch Ceremony of Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standards in Lahore. AWS is an international water management standard which aims to drive best water management practices within industrial operations and at the governance level.

The standards are being implemented in different parts of the world including the United States, South Africa, Australia and Canada to promote better management of site-specific water use and the water catchment areas and to address shared water concerns related to quality, quantity and governance. The standards have been designed such that they can significantly mitigate the physical, reputational and regulatory risks that the businesses are confronted with, in the face of increasing water scarcity.

WWF-Pakistan, in this regard, has become the pioneer organization in facilitating the implementation of AWS standards in Pakistan, while Nestlé Pakistan is its first implementing partner.

The occasion marked the official launch of the international water standard in Pakistan, which is expected to be implemented by key corporate and industrial establishments in the country. Prominent figures from across diverse sectors including government, private, academia, NGOs and donor agencies enthusiastically participated in the event and expressed their opinions regarding the AWS standard, the growing water challenges of Pakistan and how each sector can play its role in mitigating these challenges.

Speakers included experts from WWF-Pakistan, Nestlé, and AWS. Adrian Sym, Executive Director, AWS, gave an overview of the journey of the AWS Standard from conception to implementation in different countries. While addressing the audience, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan said, ‘Pakistan is a water-based economy and the resource is crucial for sustaining its economic growth and development. However, challenges such as over-exploitation and mismanagement of water resources have triggered various environmental, economic and social challenges which require urgent attention.’ He urged the leading business entities to set an example in the sphere of better water management to encourage second and third tier business enterprises to follow the suit, for overall sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Waqar Ahmed, Head of Corporate Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan, shed light on the role of Nestlé Pakistan as the first implementing partner of AWS. He said, ‘Water conservation and stewardship is a critical pillar of our Creating Shared Value portfolio. Nestlé is always looking for opportunities to reduce, recycle and reuse water in our operations. That is why we are very excited about our partnership with WWF-Pakistan. We not only hope to achieve water stewardship milestones set for ourselves sooner but also to help further reduce the water footprint across our value chain.’

Also present at the occasion were Carlo Galli, Technical and Strategic Advisor for Water Resources, Nestlé, who gave a presentation on Nestlé Global’s Water Stewardship Initiative. Alexis Morgan, Water Stewardship Specialist, WWF International, gave a global overview of WWF International’s role in the facilitation of AWS and the significance of a business case in the water sector.

Presentations were followed by a panel discussion session on adopting water stewardship as a means of improved water management. The panelists included representatives from each of the major sectors; Dr. Javed Iqbal, Director General, Environmental Protection Department (EPD); Dr. Arif Anwar, Senior Researcher, International Water Management Institute (IWMI); Alexis Morgan, Carlo Galli and Abubakar Muhammad, Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The session was moderated by Ali Hasnain Sayed, Senior Manager Water Security and Stewardship.

A three-day training session will take place in the days following the launch event for corporate organizations,   auditors and consultants to provide them with accreditation to implement AWS standards in Pakistan.