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Communities To Benefit From Seven-Year Restoration Project Along The Danube River

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  • Ground-breaking new partnership between WWF and Coca-Cola launched to restore vital wetlands and floodplains along the Danube River
  • The ambitious project aims to increase the river capacity by the equivalent of 4,800 Olympic sized swimming pools (12 million m³) and to restore over 7,422 football pitches worth of wetland habitat (53 km²) by 2020
  • $4.4 million grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation to fund restoration in six countries over seven years

Today, WWF – the nature conservation organisation – and The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) have announced a new, seven-year partnership to restore vital wetlands and floodplains along the Danube River.

The Danube, which is the European Union’s longest river, has seen 80 percent of its floodplains and wetlands disappear over the past 150 years.

Damage to the river has mainly been caused by diking, dredging and damming, which has taken place for a number of reasons including the need for hydroelectric power, shipping and to keep floodwaters at bay.

The effects have been wide-ranging and include plummeting fish and wildlife populations, decreases in water quality and damage to wetlands, which are no longer able to provide much needed biodiversity hotspots or to act as buffers to floodwaters.

Over the restoration period, measures such as removing dykes and dams to reconnect former floodplains and improve flooding capacity, reconstructing the wetland habitats of six threatened and endangered species and building a fish pass will be funded with Coca-Cola’s grant. The impact of these improvements cannot be underestimated, with the recent flooding of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia just one example of a natural disaster with devastating consequences which may have been alleviated if surrounding floodplains had been at full capacity.

“Together, WWF and The Coca-Cola Company – alongside local authorities and organisations in the countries that the Danube River passes through – will conserve and restore these vital wetlands and floodplains for the benefit of people and nature,” said Andreas Beckmann, Director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme.

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“At the same time, we intend to create a regional movement for wetland conservation and restoration, as well as good water stewardship.”

The grant will fund a long-term journey of restoration, enabling WWF and The Coca-Cola Company to work alongside local businesses, governments and civil society organizations in the countries that the Danube River passes through: Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.

“This is the biggest single programme in Europe that The Coca-Cola Foundation has supported to date” said Ulrike Sapiro, Director of Community and Environment for Coca-Cola in Europe.

“We’ve been working with the WWF since 2007 to help conserve freshwater resources around the world and to make meaningful changes to our business. We recognise that water is a scarce resource.  It’s also the primary ingredient in our products.  That’s why we are committed to continually improving how efficiently we use water, working with WWF to set ourselves ambitious global targets.”

To raise awareness of wetland conservation and restoration, WWF and Coca-Cola are embarking on a Living Danube Tour to start on Danube Day (29th June, 2014) in Serbia. The tour will demonstrate the importance of wetlands and floodplains for the wellbeing of both people and nature using engaging and educating tools, and will visit more than 25 locations across Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Serbia by the end of summer 2015.

Learn more about the Living Danube Tour and test your knowledge using our online quiz at www.livingdanube.wwf.hu.

About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company has been an important partner in supporting World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) conservation work. In 2007, we announced a transformational partnership to conserve freshwater resources throughout the world and make meaningful changes to TCCC’s business. The first phase of the partnership ran from January 1, 2007 (announced publicly on June 5, 2007) through December 31, 2012.

The Coca-Cola Foundation
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, The Foundation has awarded $675 million to support sustainable community initiatives worldwide, including replenishing water, empowering women, and enhancing the well-being of people and communities.

About World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

About The Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund
Since 2007, The Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have worked together to conserve and protect freshwater resources around the world while helping to improve the efficiency of Coca-Cola’s global operations. To date, the partnership has led to major conservation gains, including helping to improve the ecological health of seven of the world’s most important freshwater basins across five continents, helping improve the Coca-Cola system’s water efficiency by 20 percent, working to prevent 5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions across Coca-Cola’s global manufacturing operations, and promoting more sustainable agricultural practices in the Company’s supply chain.

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