LAHORE: Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) hosted its fourth Annual Pakistan Water Stewardship Network (PWSN) meeting in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan, Nestle Pakistan and Planning and Development Department (P&D), government of Punjab in Lahore.
Maheen Malik, Country Coordinator, AWS welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the activities pertinent to the standard that have been taking place in Pakistan. AWS is an international organization comprising different businesses, NGOs and public sector institutions which contribute to the sustainability of local water resources through their adoption and promotion of the International Water Stewardship Standard – AWS Standard – that drives, recognizes, and rewards good water stewardship performance.
This year’s network meeting objectives were to ensure multi-stakeholder ownership for the Water Stewardship Strategy in Pakistan along with the creation of a dedicated team of water stewards who will work towards scaling up AWS in Pakistan. Fundamentally, water remains a global issue with local context indicating that it is crucial to involve local experts, networks, and stakeholders whose engagement through the PWSN meeting will steer water stewardship in Pakistan. Usually, in the water sector debate, the private sector is missing but through AWS it gives all major stakeholders to sit at one place and discuss their similar water challenges.
According to some estimates, 64 per cent of Pakistanis are deprived of safe and clean drinking water. Pakistan wastes $2 billion worth of water in the sea every year. Per capita surface water availability has declined from 5,260 cubic meters per year in 1951 to around 1,000 cubic meters in 2016. The availability is predicted to drop to about 860 cubic meters by 2025 and making Pakistan a water scarce country.
Adrian Sym, Chief Executive, AWS said, “Each time I visit Pakistan I am impressed by the energy and commitment to address key water challenges. This commitment has never been needed more, and the PWSN meeting has the opportunity to be a vehicle to bring together different perspectives and drive water use that meets the diversity of needs for people and nature. The leadership is shown through PWSN also gives me great encouragement and fuel to ensure that our members and partners in other countries follow the example being set in Pakistan.”
Sohail Ali Naqvi, Manager Freshwater, WWF-Pakistan said, “Water stewardship has become a necessity for Pakistan, considering daily water availability, and implementing the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) is not a choice any more. WWF-Pakistan aims to promote environmental conservation and efficient use of natural resources. Through the AWS standard, WWF-Pakistan is helping and supporting the private sector to implement responsible practices that can improve water efficiency, reduces water usage, and address shared water challenges for better basin governance, consequently benefiting people and nature.”
Aatekah Mir Khan, Manager Public Affairs, Nestlé Pakistan said, “Nestle Pakistan is proud to be the first company in Pakistan to implement the AWS standard at our sites. Three of our factories are already certified while the fourth one has initiated the process. The standard is very helpful in streamlining various steps that a company needs to take in order to be a responsible water steward by pushing you to adopt a well-rounded approach, looking at various aspects be it improving in-house efficiencies, creating awareness among communities or engaging stakeholders.”
Representatives from different sectors including government, private, academia, NGOs, corporate partner and donor enthusiastically participated in the meeting and expressed their opinions regarding the growing water challenges in Pakistan and how AWS can play its role in mitigating these challenges.