Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation are negatively impacting the quantity and quality of water resources in the country, which is increasing with each passing day. This was stressed by the speakers of day-long international conference on 21st Century Water Challenges and Industrialisation. The conference was organised by WWF-Pakistan under its International Labour and Environmental Standards (ILES) Application in Pakistan’s SMEs, focused on the current water and wastewater challenges being faced by Pakistan with emphasis on innovative, cost-effective and nature-based treatment technologies. Eminent water and environmental experts expressed their views while highlighting the issues facing by Pakistan and globally. Speakers said that this was unfortunate Pakistan had become one of the most water-stressed countries in the world where looming water scarcity had posed serious threats to socio-economic conditions of the country. They said water availability in country was decreasing with a rapid pace as per capita water availability was currently only 930 cubic metres per annum as compared to 5,140 cubic metres in the 1950s. Another challenge highlighted was the urgent need for commercially viable and economically feasible solutions for wastewater treatment as water from municipal, agricultural and industrial sources is not only degrading but also contaminating the quality of naturally available ground and surface water, creating serious health risks. “To promote water conservation in the industrial sector, attention must be given to water intensive sectors such as textile processing, paper and pulp, leather and tanneries and sugar industries” they said adding that education and training to local communities about rainwater and run-off water harvesting for domestic and agricultural use and for groundwater recharge would enhance the adaptation options to cope with the current and anticipated future problems. Moreover, they stressed on supplementing groundwater supplies with surface water. WWF-Pakistan Freshwater Programme manager Sohail Ali Naqvi was of the view that water stewardship can play a positive role in the water management of the country. He emphasised on strengthening linkages of the government with all relevant stakeholders to promote pragmatic and prompt water stewardship. Moreover, he emphasised that the EU funded ILES project is assisting the textile and leather sector to adopt cleaner production technologies. According to Naqvi, reducing pollution at the source or during the production process is a more cost effective and practical solution as compared to curtailing the problem afterwards. BioCleaner Technology USA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eros Kaw presented his patented technology, which uses microbes to treat water efficiently. He elaborated that BioCleaner provides an eco-friendly solution that can help treat wastewater so that it can be reused within industries and elsewhere (except for drinking purposes). The most innovative feature of this technology is that it does not require to be fed with bacteria constantly. Rather, a single batch of bacteria can last for as long as 20 years within the system. Maheen Malik, Country Coordinator, Alliance for Water Stewardship also talked about the urgent need for collective action pertaining to water management. She elaborated that as water is a shared resource, water management not only entails working within one organisation’s geographical boundary but should transcend conventional boundaries and borders in a uniform and transparent way. She also apprised the audience about the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard that helps major water users make their process sustainable through widespread stakeholder engagement and integrated water resource management. She proudly announced that Pakistan is the first country in the world that is implementing the given framework in the textile sector with the assistance of WWF’s ILES project.