In my role as Chief Sustainability Officer, I lead our environmental and social efforts and their connection to our business. A lot of times my work comes from behind a desk, podium or in a boardroom. That’s where I can best assist our great people putting our sustainability commitments into action. However, in the field with our teams is where I am most inspired.
During a recent trip to China, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in our ongoing sustainability work and saw the impact our system is making firsthand. Great work is underway in China – and many other countries – through golden triangle partnerships (partnerships between business, government and civil society).
Our journey to see this work in China started outside the thriving metropolis of Changsha. We arrived at the Happy Farmhouse in Qingtian-Zhai. There, we are jointly working with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), our bottling partner and local governments to construct wetlands for purifying wastewater to reduce the impacts of pollution generated by ecotourism. We rolled up our sleeves and planted beneficial vegetation for the wetland. There may have been a little friendly competition to see who could finish first (eh hem, my team won!).
After cleaning up, we traveled to the company’s first sustainable tea pilot located at the Jinjing Tea Company estate (JTE), a private company of Hunan Tea Group (HTG) and tea supplier for Coca-Cola. With WWF, we have redesigned and constructed a rainwater harvesting and water-saving irrigation system and also implemented our Sustainable Agricultural Guiding Principles (SAGPs) into HTG and JTE operations for tea production. These practices benefit JTE and the local community, and contribute to our goal to sustainably source key agricultural ingredients by 2020. We tried our hand at tea picking and based on our modest yields, thought it was best left to the professionals!
• With UNDP and several other critical partners, we’re working on the Haihe River Basin Flood Utilisation Demonstration Project near Beijing to replenish an average of 10 billion liters of water to the Dahuangpuwa flood retention areas every year.
• On Orange Island, our Happiness Movement has organised 397 community walks and 126 health lectures in more than 60 cities across China, with more than 1.4 million participants to date.
• In the Liuyang River-Xiang River-Dongting Lake Basin, we are ensuring safe drinking water for 5 million people through the protection of 200,000 hectares of wetlands.
Overall, we have made tremendous sustainability progress in this important region thanks to our dedication and that of our partners. While in China, I saw meaningful change but I also realise how much more is possible. Real transformation and results mandate that all of us work together for lasting change. We need more cross-sector partnerships joining the sustainability journey. If you seek inspiration, I recommend getting your feet on the ground.
More on Journey
- Blogfest 2016: Introducing mums and dads to Coca-Cola Great Britain
- Video: How London's luxury Savoy hotel is linked to Coca-Cola's iconic Hilltop advert
- Is it possible to create ‘Value’ and ‘ROI’ indicators for ecosystems? In a word, Yes.
- For every drop of water we use at Coca-Cola, we give one back
- 5 things I’ve learnt as a ParkLives instructor