Today is World Water Day 2016, an opportunity to focus on the importance of improving access to fresh water and protection of the planet's increasingly scarce water resources.
Water stewardship is a key sustainability priority for The Coca-Cola Company. Clean, accessible water is of vital importance to the health of communities, ecosystems, economies and, ultimately, our business.
All over the world, Coca-Cola is working with partners to protect local water sources that sustain communities. A prime example can be found in the Mediterranean, one of the most water-scarce areas in the world, where Coca-Cola is involved in a long-term, cross-country and award-winning program to improve water security.
Developed in 2008 in Greece, the "Non-Conventional Water Resources Program" (NCWR) helps drought-affected island communities in Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Italy maintain access to fresh water supplies. Set up by the regional organization Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (GWP-Med), local partners and with funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the program is helping to shift behavior and create a new mindset about water consumption.
The region's fresh water availability is under severe pressure from the intensive use by tourism, agriculture, industrial activities and inefficient use of water. Meanwhile, droughts caused by climate change are making the situation even more pressing. These risks are all magnified on small islands, where ecosystems are more fragile and water resources are already in short supply.
Making a Difference
By engaging the local community, the NCWR program is raising awareness of the water scarcity challenges and encouraging the use of practical, sustainable and cost-effective solutions to save water. The program aims to build sustainable supplies of water through non-conventional resources – such as rainwater harvesting, stormwater collection and recycling of household wastewater. It also aims to create a more responsible water culture, through education, training of local technicians, and promoting sustainable water use among local authorities.
The Coca-Cola Foundation has invested $4.58 million in the program, with additional financial support from the Coca-Cola system's "Mission Water" program in Greece and the Maltese Ministry for Gozo. By working closely together with local authorities, the program has reached 32 Mediterranean islands to date.
More than 110,000 inhabitants in often remote locations, are benefiting from 86 water-saving installations, helping to save a water volume equivalent to a town of 3,500 people for an entire year. Most importantly, in addition to saving water, the program has managed to decrease water demand through water saving and reuse, water harvesting and increased efficiency.
Last year, NCWR received a prestigious silver award at the Water Showcase Awards at the World Water Forum in Korea. The program was recognised for its holistic approach and replication potential in other water-scarce communities around the world.
Download an infographic here.