The ‘Water Governance Standard’ – Towards Resolving India’s Water Crisis

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February, 2023

The ‘Water Governance Standard’ – Towards Resolving India’s Water Crisis

The goal of the Water Governance Standard is to catalyse competitive dynamics in rural communities which uncover promising water investment opportunities that can deliver sustained benefits to communities and investors alike.

India is on the brink of a water crisis, with over 600 million people facing high to extreme water stress. The dwindling freshwater reserves are a wake-up call for us to act now and ensure sustainable use of our natural resources. To address this grave concern, WOTR and W-CReS, with support from IDH, have taken a groundbreaking step forward to address this crisis with the launch of ‘The Water Governance Standard: Making Water Everybody’s Business’. 

How does the Water Governance Standard bolster water management?

This book represents a new dawn in water management, introducing a rating and certification methodology that aims to drive effective water management practices at scale. The system assesses communities and assigns them a “water score” that reflects their access and management of water, much like a “credit score”. This will incentivize communities to improve their water governance practices, ensuring that everyone has access to clean water, as well as the capacity to sustainably manage their water resources.

The Water Governance Standard is a groundbreaking methodology that has the potential to bolster water management practices in India

The Water Governance Standard – Launch webinar

The book and standard was launched through a webinar ‘Water Governance Standard: Towards an Investment-Smart Rural Water Sector’ on the 3rd of February, 2023. The webinar brought together prominent figures in the water management industry, which included Mukund Rajan, CEO, ECube Investments Advisers, Chairperson, Environment Committee, FICCI and Member ESG Committee, SEBI; Adrian Sym, CEO, Alliance for Water Stewardship; Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital, Founder of ATE Chandra Foundation and Mark Smith, DG, International Water Management Institute.

In his keynote address, Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital India stated, “While ensuring that everyone has access to water is an important objective, long term water management and conservation greatly depends on the community’s ability to sustainably maintain its water resources through behavioural change. This is the most interesting aspect of the Water Governance Standard.” 

A host of dignitaries including Amit Chandra, MD of Bain Capital participated in the launch of the Water Governance Standard

The Water Governance Standard” (WGS) aims to promote water-smart attitudes and behaviours among rural communities, while encouraging investors to direct the necessary resources to these communities to help them meet their water needs sustainably. This standard provides a new framework for private sector engagement in water management and governance, and has the potential to bring all stakeholders together in a unified effort towards a water-smart future. 

“I see the Water Governance Standard as a tool for activating change by taking the required incremental steps of governance, locally. Importantly, it gives a new kind of rationalisation for private sector engagement, not just in water management but in governance. It, therefore, has the potential to incentivise all actors to align in really new ways and introduce new drivers for those governance shifts,” said Mark Smith – Director General, International Water Management Institute. 

Mark Smith - Director General at IWMI was a keynote speaker at the launch webinar of The Water Governance Standard

A panel discussion titled “Towards a Water Smart Rural India ” was moderated by Dr. Alok Sikka, Country Head, International Water Management Institute at the event. The panel featured Eshwer Kale, Thematic Lead, Water Resources Development and Governance, WOTR and co-author of ‘The Water Governance Standard’’; Jasmer Dhingra, Director Programmes, IDH; Royston Braganza, CEO Grameen Impact Investments India; and Paul Raja Rao, Founder Secretary and ED, BIRDS (Bharat Integrated Rural Development Society). The discussion explored how the Water Governance Standard (WGS) can drive positive change in the rural water sector. 

The launch of the “Water Governance Standard” represents a major milestone in the drive towards a sustainable, investment-smart rural water sector, and is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together towards a future where water is managed equitably and sustainably for all.  “If customised to local contexts, we believe that the Water Governance Standard has the potential to make a real difference,” shared Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee, WOTR and lead author of the book.

Watch the recording of the launch of ‘The Water Governance Standard: Towards an Investment-Smart Rural Water Sector’:

For more information and to download the book, please visit www.wotr.org/wgs.

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