Water Stewardship Ireland Leading Industry Response to Address Water-Related Climate Risks

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Collaborative network of businesses and environmental agencies unite to invest €5 million in best-practice initiatives for water usage

2 September 2021 – Water Stewardship Ireland, a collaborative network of leading Irish businesses, environmental and state agencies, has relaunched with a new brand identity today, with the aim of preserving Ireland’s water resources through investment, collective action and promotion of sustainable water usage.

Water Stewardship Ireland is an evolution of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Large Water Users Community of Practice, with membership drawn from multiple industry sectors, across both Irish and international organisations, as well as environmental groups and state agencies.

The original network was established in 2013 to encourage better business water usage and now with over 300 members, represents approximately 70% of Ireland’s industrial water usage. Members and partners have spent over €2 million on water stewardship research and support initiatives over the past three years and plan to spend a further €3 million in the next three years.

Training and certification are key pillars for Water Stewardship Ireland, where alongside other national skills and training initiatives, it partners with Skillnet Ireland and Irish Water to deliver a free Certified Water Stewardship Programme for Irish based businesses.

Collaboration and research are also central features to the Water Stewardship Ireland network with regular peer-to-peer meetings and site visits, sharing of best practice, and collaborative development of innovative tools, standards, data and strategies to promote better water stewardship practices.

The relaunch of Water Stewardship Ireland with a new brand identity comes at an important juncture. Water as a resource is in limited supply worldwide, with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projecting that at current levels water demand will increase by 55% globally by 2050, and the United Nations predicting that demand will exceed supply by 2030.

In July 2021, a study by the EPA, Met Éireann and the Marine Institute in Ireland, found that climate change is having a clear and damaging impact on Ireland. According to the report, Ireland has seen, and will continue to see, incidences of coastal flooding, extreme weather and drought conditions, which in turn will threaten water supply and quality.

Speaking about the relaunch of Water Stewardship Ireland, Ken Stockil, Chairman of Water Stewardship Ireland, said, “The impact of water risks on Irish society and the economy cannot be understated and has the potential to cost jobs, impact livelihoods, food security and inward tourism. The worst impacts of climate change will be felt and seen through water and there is a clear responsibility on Irish businesses to take urgent action to become more sustainable and efficient in their use of water resources.”

Cliona Ní Eidhin, Inspector at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland said: “Since 2013, Water Stewardship Ireland has provided an excellent opportunity to industry, stakeholders and agencies to address the water challenges facing Irish businesses. This progressive network has gone from strength to strength and has made a hugely positive impact on promoting water stewardship.”

Welcoming the news on behalf of Irish Water, Christine Crawford, Business Communications & Marketing Executive said: Climate change is impacting the precious resource of water, and the operations of businesses across the globe who are experiencing water shortages and droughts. Irish Water is supporting Irish businesses to take urgent action to become more sustainable and efficient in their use of water resources, with our Water Stewardship Programme at water.ie/stewardship.”

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