Global standards agreed for water stewardship
Governments and industry have agreed to work with scientists to draw up a set of standards that can be used as a yardstick for measuring the efficiency of water use.
The roundtable will be facilitated by conservation charity WWF which has worked on similar projects to broker global agreements on farmed fish species and crops that have a high environmental impact such as palm oil, soya and sugar.
"Water resources around the world are in a crisis and poor water management is a major factor," said Jason Clay, senior vice president for market transformation at WWF.
"The Global Water Roundtable is a pragmatic, consensus-driven way to recognise water managers who are reducing their water footprint."
The roundtable's work will be funded for its first four years through a $1m grant from commercial cleaning company JohnsonDiversey.
The company's water management experts will also provide technical and operational input to establishing the new standards.
Company president JohnsonDiversey said: "Business leaders around the world cannot ignore the importance of water conservation in their future business plans.
"Establishing clear, global standards for water use is a critical step toward giving businesses the tools they need to ensure we have a sustainable supply of clean, fresh water for future generations."
The standards will seek to address water management issues around the world.
Scientists know that many of the world's rivers and lakes are polluted or running dry, resulting in a lack of access to clean water for drinking and sanitation and a serious decline in freshwater species.
Current demand for water from cities, agriculture and industry is already unsustainable in many regions and is predicted to increase in coming years.
These threats are compounded by climate change, which is profoundly impacting global water resources.
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