Technology Takes on Difficult Opponent: Clean Water

Earlier this week, I spent time in New York City at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI, @ClintonGlobal), and again this year, I continued to be inspired by this event.

The energy was unbelievable.  And so was the passion I felt from the presidents of nations, heads of state, business leaders, NGOs, Nobel Prize laureates, humanitarians and celebrities who were there to make commitments that address the world’s most pressing challenges.

Over the years, CGI members have produced more than 2,100 pledges valued at nearly $70 billion, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

One of the reasons CGI has such strong participation is its mission: to turn ideas into action and commitments into solutions. When you look at the commitments that are being made here, it matches our commitments:  Health and well-being, access to water, education, education opportunities, work force development, improving our environmental and social infrastructures, and empowering women.

This bias towards action and passion for making a positive impact is one of the reasons Coke (@CocaColaCo) is a part of CGI. And I’m proud to say that again this year, we contributed to this collective effort.

From the CGI stage yesterday afternoon, Coke announced an expansion of Project ‘Last Mile,’ a commitment we announced at the 2010 CGI Annual Meeting. ‘Last Mile’ is a collaborative effort to help ensure critical medicines get in the hands of the people who need them in remote regions of the world. In partnership with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (TGF, @globalfundnews) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF, @gatesfoundation), we will support Tanzania’s Medical Stores Department (MSD) to increase the availability of medicines to 75% of the country.  We will also begin work in Ghana with Ghana Health Services.

Project ‘Last Mile’ launched in early 2010.  With added expertise from Accenture Development Partnerships and Yale’s Global Health Leadership Institute, the program helped create a new procurement process that enabled health facilities to place their own orders, reduced lead time by as much as 25 days; expanded distribution from 500 to 5,000 health facilities; and improved critical medicines reaching their targets by an estimated 20-30 percent.

The second announcement we made yesterday is a global clean water partnership with DEKA R&D to bring water purification systems to communities in Africa and Latin America, where potable water access is limited. Using DEKA President Dean Kamen’s “Slingshot” technology, one Slingshot unit can purify up to 300,000 liters of water each year.  It produces 10 gallons of clean water an hour while consuming less than 1 kilowatt of electricity (less than what it takes to run a standard handheld hair dryer).

In 2013, we expect to deliver millions of liters of clean drinking water to schools, community centers and health clinics in rural regions of Africa and Latin America, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank  (@IDBnews) and Africare (@Africare). Moving forward, we plan to gradually increase the number of locations and units placed each year. Check out the video below to see our long term vision for this partnership.

I left the CGI summit last night energized about the goodness of people and the dedication of organizations to truly make this world a better place.  I am inspired and thrilled that my role at Coke allows me to be a part of ensuring we empower communities around the world!

Bea Perez is the Chief Sustainability Officer for The Coca-Cola Company.