Today is World Water Day, an annual event organised by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of water and raise awareness of the water challenges the planet faces today.
Water is critical to our business, so it is a day to reflect on the commitments we have made in our Sustainability Action Plan: This is Forward, to ensure we doing everything we can to handle water with the care it deserves across our operations and value chain.
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources and is the main ingredient in our products. It is essential to our manufacturing processes and to ensuring a sustainable supply of the agricultural ingredients we rely on.
However, one of the major challenges we face is water scarcity and the deteriorating quality of water resources in our territories and supply chains. This is a result of factors including over-exploitation, poor water management, and climate change.
To protect the water sources we use for future generations, we have set ourselves commitments to reduce the water we use in manufacturing by 20% by 2025 against a 2010 baseline; and to replenish 100% of the water we use in areas of water stress.
The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges in the 21st century. Here are just some examples of our partnership projects already in place to support the areas in which we operate, and deliver on our water commitments:
Working with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to replenish rivers, create wetlands and improve water quality in Great Britain
For the past five years, together with The Coca-Cola Company, we have supported WWF-UK on a variety of projects in South East England. Our projects have helped protect and replenish the Rivers Cray and Nar, and the Cam-Ely-Ouse and Broadlands river catchments in East Anglia. These areas are intensively used for growing sugar beet and suffer from agricultural pollution.
Other projects include:
Broomfield Park in Enfield - creating an area of wetland to address urban pollution.
Richmond Park in southwest London - improving water quality by preventing polluted road run-off.
Ham Fen nature reserve in Kent - restoring one of the last remaining areas of peat wetland in England.
Working with partners on eight water replenishment programmes across Spain
Together with The Coca-Cola Foundation, we support eight water replenishment programmes in Spain, with partners including WWF-Spain, Ecodes, SEO/Birdlife, Accionatura and Jaume I University.
One of the most extensive projects is in the Tancat de la Pipa wetland system in Valencia where, together with SEO-Birdlife, the project has worked to restore the vegetation and habitats of the Albufera National Park.
Protecting plant and wildlife habits and restoring drinking water reserves in Belgium
Together with The Coca-Cola Company, we have supported a partnership with Natuurpunt over the past three years to improve wetlands in Belgium. Our first partnership focused on the restoration of Stappersven Lake in the De Zoom-Kalmthoutse nature reserve, through the removal of foreign plant species, and re-planting of indigenous trees.
In 2017, the partnership was expanded to help improve water maintenance and combat drainage in an area of wetlands in the Demervallei, in Flemish Brabant. The project will protect plant and wildlife habitats and restore drinking water reserves for the area.
Thanks to water stewardship projects like these, we are already making major progress in protecting the sustainability of water resources for future generations. Since 2010, we have reduced the amount of water we use to make one litre of product by 11.78%, and in 2016, we replenished 89% of the water we used in our drinks where it was sourced from areas of stress.
But our Action on Water does not stop here. We are committed to always handling water with the care it deserves, and continuing to take a value-chain approach to water stewardship now on World Water Day, and in the many years to come.
Our 2017 Stakeholder Progress Report is due to be published in May 2018, which will highlight how we are performing against all of the commitments we made in our Sustainability Action Plan: This is Forward.