Ulrike Sapiro, director of sustainability for The
Enlightened business leaders are endorsing this view because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that safe and reliable water resources are the key to security of supply, security, health and prosperity - in short: to a healthy market and healthy business. As Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The
Why would he say that? Well, for the The
Water is key to growing and providing the many natural ingredients and fruits we need for our drinks. It is essential to our processing, bottling, washing operations all over the world. It is a foundational part of healthy and prospering communities and markets, in which we want to sell our products. And often overlooked: water is the lifeblood of the environment around us that provides us with many other services we generally take for granted.
We all recognise that more businesses need to do more to really help shift the needle - and do more together with governments, the local communities and civil society. Because truth be told, we are nowhere near managing our water resources sustainably.
Since 1990, over 2.6 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water resources, lifting the share of global population connected to a safe tap from 76% to 91%. The new Sustainable Development Goals have enshrined further progress into our global agenda until 2030.
663 million people are still without access to safe water and 2.6 billion can’t use a toilet, which often leads to further pollution of water resources. And this in turn leads to over 2 million deaths a year from water-borne diseases, mostly in children. 40% of people live in water scarce areas today and in 2050, it is predicted that two thirds of the global population will live under water stress at least one month per year.
Whilst ‘The Bad’ is fixable with good policy and governance, investment and technology, what really is ugly is the change that appears to happen in some of our biggest surface water reservoirs: the poles and glaciers. According to recent research, the speed of retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas has doubled.
As a passionate - albeit infrequent - hiker in the European Alps, I have seen that retreat of the mighty ice-caps over the past year myself. It’s not only ugly to look at, it might also change the regional climate and water available in the rivers downstream. And once gone, the ice is not coming back.
The reality is that with growing populations and other contributing factors, protecting this valuable resource is also one of the greatest challenges of our time. We can’t afford to bury our head in the sand and I, for one, remain hopeful about the progress we are making to help sustain clean water for the planet.
In the face of what seems to be so much bad news we are hearing from around the world, I would like to highlight a few good stories on how progress is made on water over the coming months.
Challenge: Protect watersheds
The global water challenge is daunting and one thing we believe at
One way to help protect community’s water is to protect watersheds, which then preserve water for all people living within the given watershed. Water funds are a way to do this. By financially investing in watersheds, which work best when the area is the water source, for example mountainous areas that collect rain and snow which then downstream into large communities, we can protect large swaths of nature and people.
Currently, here at
This investment leads to protected watersheds, which ensure clean water to many people and also back to nature.
Challenge: Reduce water stress
Communities that don’t have easy access to clean water can’t focus on other problems. It becomes a huge distraction, because when deprived of water you are deprived of a basic human need.
Coca-Cola’s partnership with UN-HABITAT addresses this head on by helping to provide improved access to clean drinking water and sanitation to communities in need. This partnership was launched by
When a community’s basic needs are met like access to clean water and sanitation, the community can focus on other things like economic growth and education. In other words, ensuring clean, safe water allows for a community to flourish but without it, it is impossible.
Challenge: Provide water access
Millions of Africans without access to safe drinking water die from preventablewaterborne illnesses. It is a vast water crisis across the continent that no single organization or NGO can solve alone.
In an effort to help create a sustainable solution, The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) was created with the goal of improving access to clean water for 2 million people in Africa by 2015. The
We not only achieved our initial goal, but we set a higher one. The
If we work together, sustainable solutions can be possible.
More on Journey
- Replenish: It’s About Balancing the Water We Use
- Water Funds Partnership: Investing Directly In Water Resource Management
- Is it possible to create ‘Value’ and ‘ROI’ indicators for ecosystems? In a word, Yes.
- Water and Women: Creating Change Together
- The Circular Economy: What Does it Mean to Coca-Cola’s Director of Sustainability?