The Coca‑Cola Company returns to World Water Week in Stockholm this month to share progress made against its 2030 global water strategy and collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders on solutions to the world’s most pressing water-related challenges. Hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute, the event will explore new ways of managing water and tackling humanity’s greatest challenges—from food security and health to agriculture, technology and biodiversity.
The company’s holistic and science-based 2030 strategy aims to increase water security for its operations, local watersheds and communities—where it operates, sources agricultural ingredients for beverages and touches people’s lives.
In March, the company announced three goals related to our water security strategy’s three focus areas:
• To achieve 100% regenerative water use across 175 facilities identified as facing high levels of water stress by 2030.
• To improve the health of 60 watersheds identified as most critical for our operations and agricultural supply chain by 2030.
• To return a cumulative total of 2 trillion liters of water to nature and communities globally over the life of our strategy, between 2021–2030.
We spoke with Madhu Rajesh, senior director of water and agriculture, who will represent the company on several panel discussions in Stockholm.
Why is water a top priority for The Coca‑Cola Company?
Water is the primary ingredient used in our beverages and an essential resource for the wellbeing of communities around the world. With presence in more than 200 countries and territories, we believe we have a responsibility to protect local water resources and help people who live in places that face water scarcity.
Our work starts within our own four walls by investing in initiatives to reduce water used in making our beverages and to treat and reuse water where possible. Outside our operations, we return to nature and communities the amount of water used to produce our products. We also work to preserve nature, biodiversity and promote advanced water management practices. And we are making progress: in 2022, together with our partners such as The Coca‑Cola Foundation, we replenished 159% of the water we use in our finished beverages globally and returned 291 billion liters of water to nature and communities.
Water stewardship has long been a business imperative at Coca‑Cola. In 2015, we became the first Fortune 500 company to replenish all water used in our global beverage production—five years ahead of plan—and have done so every year since, shifting our focus toward making a greater impact on people and ecosystems. Our water security strategy reaffirms our commitment to being responsible stewards of this vital resource by improving water availability, quality, access and governance—and by taking a more granular, local approach. We’re focusing on doing what matters most, where it matters most.
Why does the company participate in World Water Week?
None of us can resolve the world’s most pressing water challenges on our own; collective action is needed to accelerate and scale. That’s why we partner with organizations including the World Bank’s Water Resources Group, CEO Water Mandate, Global Water Challenge, The Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund (WWF)—as well as governments, communities and other companies—to advocate for good water governance and smart water policies. We look forward to engaging with thought leaders, learning from partners and stakeholders and sharing best practices, and identifying opportunities to build alliances.
What will we share at the 2023 event?
We will be speaking about our work on nature-based solutions, water quality, watershed health and water management. We will provide examples of how we are making progress against our water goals and related priorities, with market-specific case studies and data.
In addition, as co-chairs of the WASH4Work initiative hosted by The UN Global Compact’s CEO Water Mandate, we will showcase how WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) interventions help drive gender equity and economic empowerment. We will also join a World Water Week panel on water management practices in agriculture.
For examples of our progress to date, please see our 2022 Business & Sustainability Report.
How does water intersect with the company’s other core sustainability priorities?
Water is the nexus that links the health and wellbeing of people and communities, economic prosperity and environmental health. Enhanced water management helps our business, supply chain and local communities build resilience to a changing climate.
Water efficiency and reuse reduces our emissions and creates significant ecosystem and carbon benefits through nature-based solutions and replenishment. This means improving capacities to withstand, recover from and adapt to the shocks and stressors related to climate change.
Water use across our supply chain also plays a key role in our sustainable agriculture work. We are engaging with our suppliers to promote better water management in our agriculture supply chain.
This year’s World Water Week theme is “Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World”. What does that mean to you?
Around the world, people are experiencing the impact of a warming planet through changes in water—from floods to droughts to rising temperatures in oceans. This event is a unique opportunity to drive dialogue and action around initiatives that promote better use of water resources, because we need to amplify and accelerate what's working and discuss what we can do better.