WASHINGTON, D.C – The U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) presented its 2017 Water Leader Award to Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, Tuesday in a ceremony at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

Kent received the award for leading the company through its vision and achievement of some of its biggest environmental and humanitarian efforts during his tenure as CEO, including many water stewardship milestones, namely reaching the company’s aggressive goal to replenish all the water it uses globally five years ahead of schedule.

“Clean water is our most precious resource,” Kent said. “I am proud to accept this award as a tribute to the thousands of Coca-Cola employees and our partners who work tirelessly to preserve the world's water resources and bring water access to those in need. This is our shared legacy.” Read Kent’s full remarks from the event.

While at the helm of a company that is one of the most visible water users in the world, Kent led Coca-Cola in using its global network to bring water access to communities and preserve watersheds around the world. To date, The Coca-Cola Company, its foundations and bottling partners have invested more than $2 billion in safe water access, infrastructure, restoration and education in communities and watersheds, in addition to installing wastewater treatment systems in nearly all its plants globally.

This new interactive map shows how Coca-Cola is working to help ensure the long-term availability of water, a critical resource to both local communities and our operations. Coca-Cola is currently contributing to 248 community water projects in 2,000 communities across 71 countries.

Kent’s commitment to water stewardship began when he was named CEO in 2008. In 2009, The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation launched the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), a program that has leveraged $65 million from Coca-Cola and millions more from partners to bring safe water access to 2.4 million Africans through 140 local partners. The company has stated that its goal is to reach 6 million with safe water access and sanitation by 2020.

In 2016, months before it was announced that Kent would be stepping down from his position as CEO effective May 1, 2017, the company announced that in the previous year, in partnership with governments and local organizations, it had helped replenish community water sources and watersheds around the world in a volume that exceeded the amount of water it uses to make its beverages. In 2015, that replenishment volume was approximately 300 billion liters.

'I am proud to accept this award as a tribute to the thousands of Coca-Cola employees and our partners who work tirelessly to preserve the world's water resources and bring water access to those in need. This is our shared legacy.'

USWP considered multiple factors in awarding Kent, including public-private partnerships, innovative leadership, and impact on the future of global water security. Notably, to enhance overall long-term effectiveness and impact, The Coca-Cola Company invested time and resources in building strategic public-private partnerships and holistic approaches to global development – key strategies driven by Kent’s leadership. By partnering with local and global NGOs, aid organizations and governments, safe water access and sanitation programs are designed with local communities to ensure their needs are addressed with solutions they can support and manage over time.

In addition, the company partners with conservation organizations, including longstanding partner World Wildlife Fund, to restore watersheds and protect species distinct to a certain region linked with a water source.

“Mr. Kent is an ideal inaugural recipient of this award and embodies the type of leadership required to create a sustainable water future,” said Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, vice chair of the U.S. Water Partnership National Executive Committee. “We share his commitment to elevating water as a priority across America and the world.”

Learn more about The Coca-Cola Company's global water stewardship programs and progress.