The Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Thursday released an Annual Review on the one-year anniversary of their global partnership to protect our freshwater resources. Reporting on their collaborative efforts throughout 2013, the report highlights progress in the areas of freshwater conservation, environmental performance, valuing nature and the formation of additional partnerships — all supporting the partnership’s renewed focus on addressing the natural resource challenges impacting fresh water.
“Our partnership’s Annual Review is more than a tool to share our progress with the world, but also a record of our work together, one that we can revisit to determine how we can do more, and do better,” said Greg Koch, Global Water Stewardship Director at The Coca-Cola Company. “When work is underway we recognize progress occurring, however it isn’t until a collaborative report is created that we truly realize its extent. The report reinforces our strong belief in the power of partnership to deliver results that benefit our planet.”
Coke and WWF first announced a global partnership in 2007 to conserve and protect freshwater resources around the world. In 2013, they renewed their partnership through 2020, and expanded it to more deeply engage across the Company’s value chain; involve additional partners to achieve greater scale and impact; and spark commitments from businesses, governments, and consumers to take action to value, conserve, and protect the planet’s natural resources, with a focus on fresh water.
“In this new phase of partnership, our two organizations are working hand-in-hand to address some of the world’s biggest and most pressing challenges, from global agricultural issues and natural resource scarcity to climate change and freshwater conservation,” said Suzanne Apple, WWF’s SVP of Private Sector Engagement. “But, we know we can’t solve these challenges alone, so we are collaborating across borders and sectors with partners from government, multilateral institutions, academia, industry and civil society. This year’s Annual Review highlights real-world examples of these local collaborations around the globe.”
While partners spent much of the year planning basin improvement projects and structuring the work streams, critical components of positioning the partnership for success and progress toward meeting the partnership’s 2020 goals were realized in 2013, including:
- Helping ensure healthy, resilient freshwater basins in 11 key regions: Projects have been initiated across the select 11 geographies, spanning Asia, Africa and the Americas. Some early successes include collaborating with local farmers in the Mesoamerican Reef on more sustainable growing techniques that also improve productivity, including reductions in pesticide toxicity, and water and fertilizer use. In the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, cross-sector partners are being united across country borders to reduce negative impacts from invasive species such as salt cedar and giant cane, which narrow the river, leading to increased flooding and greater damage.
- Improving the environmental performance across the Coca-Cola’s value chain: WWF and Coca-Cola set ambitious goals for the Company to improve its agricultural, climate, packaging and water efficiency performance. In 2013, some of that work comprised the identification of key agricultural ingredients for the Company to sustainably source by 2020. In addition, Coke improved its water-use efficiency for the 11th consecutive year, with a nearly 8 percent improvement over a 2010 baseline, keeping it on track toward the partnership’s 2020 goal of a 25 percent improvement over 2010.
- Integrating the value of nature into public and private decision-making processes: The partnership team began work on a collaborative research project to examine the potential environmental benefits from the global adoption of sustainable production standards. This project will help inform how the public and private sectors set policies and make better sourcing decisions, as well as update consumers on the benefits to society from the sustainable production and use of commodities.
- Convening influential partners to solve global environmental challenges: In 2013, WWF and Coca-Cola began engaging organizations with shared goals to deepen, sustain and amplify their work globally and in partnership basins. The partners also took steps to become active participants in the global water dialogue, convening influential stakeholders at World Water Week in Stockholm to learn about the partnership and explore opportunities for engagement toward common goals.
“With growing global demands on food and water, we must seek solutions that drive mutual benefit for business, communities and nature,” Koch says. “Only by working together, across sectors, will sustainable solutions be reached.”
In the days leading up to World Water Day in March, Coke and WWF partnered with the Global Water Challenge to launch the #ToastToWater social media campaign, which asked people to publicly thank water for all it does while also educating site visitors about water challenges being faced around the world.