The Water Governance Standard book released, introducing path breaking water score

WOTR and W-CReS, with support from IDH, announced the official release of their ground-breaking book, The Water Governance Standard: Making Water Everybody’s Business. The book, introduces a path breaking rating and certification methodology that could drive effective water management at scale by assessing communities and giving them a water score which characterizes how they access and manage water, much as a credit score reflects the creditworthiness of a person.

The book and standard was officially released on Friday, February 3rd, 2023, at a webinar with the theme ‘Water Governance Standard: Towards an Investment Smart Rural Water Sector’. The webinar featured compelling keynote addresses by dignitaries including Mukund Govind Rajan, Chairperson, Environment Committee at FICCI; Amit Chandra, Managing Director at Bain Capital India; Mark Smith – Director General at IWMI and Adrian Sym, CEO at Alliance for Water Stewardship and a power packed panel discussion around the theme, ‘Towards a Water Smart Rural India’, moderated by Alok Sikka, IWMI Representative-India that included Jasmer Dhingra, Director of Programs in India at IDH; Eshwer Kale, Thematic Lead of Water Resources Development & Governance at WOTR; Royston Braganza Co-founder & CEO at Grameen Impact and Paul Raja Rao, Founder Secretary and Executive Director at Bharati Integrated Rural Development Society.

“I congratulate WOTR and W-CReS for producing this very valuable document. Many businesses and corporates are going to find it extremely helpful in the pursuit of a more water resilient future,” said Mukund Govind Rajan, Chairperson, Environment Committee at FICCI.

“As a partner to WOTR and funder for the Water Governance Standard, we are very happy with this framework that can be applied for what we think is potentially transformational for water management at scale,” said Jasmer Dhingra, Director of Programs in India at IDH

The Water Governance Standard aims to incentivise and nudge rural communities and investors alike to adopt water-smart attitudes and behaviours, while also channelising the necessary financial and technical resources to these communities.

“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,” said Amit Chandra, Managing Director, Bain Capital India.

“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, IWMI

According to a report by NITI Aayog, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and since independence, freshwater per capita has decreased by 70% (NITI Aayog, ‘Composite Water Management Index,’ June 2018). For India to meet its population’s water needs sustainably, there is a need to change behaviour and attitude toward water. “We believe that the Water Governance Standard, if customised to local contexts, has the potential to transform India’s rural water sector by incentivising behaviour change and creating appropriate conditions for significant financial and investment inflow into the water sector,” said Crispino Lobo, Co-Founder and Managing Trustee at WOTR and lead author of the book.