Having been born and raised in Latin America and having worked for The Coca-Cola Company in this region for more than 30 years, I am passionate about our sustainability efforts. My hope and belief are that the sustainability work we’re doing – both socially and environmentally – benefits people and local communities while bringing positive change to every corner of Latin America.

In 2017, a major focus for us in Latin America was to aggressively reduce sugar in our beverages – a key component of a company-wide effort to give people more of the drinks they want. By the end of 2017, around one-third percent of our total regional portfolio was made up of sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.

In fact, many of the new drinks we launched last year were low- or no-sugar options. In Argentina and Chile, nearly three-quarters of the new products launched were low- or no-sugar beverages. In addition, more than half of our Latin American brands provide packaging options of 250 milliliters or less, so people have more ways to control how much sugar they get from our drinks.

We are taking learnings from market to market across Latin America, expanding our portfolio, reducing sugar, and increasing small package offerings — all while — engaging in dialogue. We have found these discussions informative and helpful in guiding our product portfolio and influencing our sustainability actions.

Rich in culture and nature, Latin America is poised to experience tremendous economic growth. As a result, effective management of natural resources is an increasingly important focus for the region. From investing in clean water access to our goal to collect a bottle or can for every one we sell, we’re focused on doing business the right way, not just the easy way. When we do that, we help create shared opportunity through growth that benefits everyone.

In 2017, we continued to create opportunities for local communities with a strong focus on empowering women, who have long been critical contributors to Coca-Cola’s business system. This work supports our company’s 5by20™ initiative to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women by 2020.

To help foster Colombia’s reconciliation, we launched a platform to support rural women and victims of violence in the country with two main projects: Mujer Cafetera and Mujer Reconcilia. In total, 2,000 female producers of coffee and fruits benefited directly. Both projects help them grow economically and professionally through financial support and technical capacity development.

"We are taking learnings market-to-market across Latin America, expanding our portfolio, reducing sugar, increasing small package offerings—and engaging in dialogue."

In December 2017, we launched "Emprendamos Juntos” in Ecuador, a 5by20™ initiative that empowers women shopkeepers in our value chain. The program helps women to strengthen their business and commercial skills through coaching sessions focused on personal and professional development. The program has since expanded to Central America and Colombia.

In Uruguay and Paraguay, we launched a program to help local women entrepreneurs, with more than 600 women in Uruguay and 700 women in Paraguay participating. Our Mujeres que Transforman (Women Transform) program in Argentina, developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Social Development, ran collaborative workshops in 2017 where more than 450 women worked to identify neighborhood issues and turn them into opportunities. We also invested in leadership, marketing and finance training for nearly 300 women who own or work at kiosks.

Throughout 2017 in Mexico, nearly 30,000 women were empowered through our 5by20™ program. These women received training in business skills and personal development. The program established alliances with the National Technological Institute of Mexico, civil society organizations and our bottlers.

When it comes to the environment, we have local programs underway that will contribute to the company’s vision of a World Without Waste, which includes packaging design innovation, collection and partnerships.

Through the Regional Initiative for Inclusive Recycling, for instance, we partnered in 2017 to help improve packaging recyclers’ socio-economic conditions across Latin America, particularly in Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. The initiative – formed by the Multilateral Investment Fund, the IDB Water and Sanitation Division, The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Avina Foundation – is bringing radical solutions to important challenges such as waste management system improvements and market access.

At the end of 2017, as part of our sustainable packaging commitment, Mexico launched the new CIEL blue bottle which is made from 100 percent recycled bottles. This is a unique package and, hopefully, a benchmark for the industry.  Since 2008, Coca-Cola Brazil has been investing in the informal sector through a program called Coletivo Recycling, supporting more than 200 recycling cooperatives. Observing the overlap of investments from other companies, it became clear that the most effective path was to build a co-investment platform, thereby saving management costs and significantly increasing the social and environmental impacts.

Consequently, in 2017 we launched “Reciclar pelo Brasil” together with AmBev. With the program, we are joining efforts to reduce the environmental impact of our packaging, as well as to develop, train and professionalize collector cooperatives. This partnership aims to increase investments for waste pickers' cooperatives with a goal of reducing the amount of packaging going to landfills by at least 22 percent by 2018.

Another environmental priority for Latin America is water leadership. We work closely with many partners, including the Nature Conservancy, Avina, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and One Drop Foundation, to implement programs that increase safe water access and protect watersheds. Significant work with WWF helped secure funding to support water conservation projects in the Mesoamerican Reef Catchments of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

In 2017, One Drop, the Inter-American Development Bank, The Coca-Cola Foundation and FEMSA Foundation also announced a $25 million investment in Lazos de Agua, an initiative to provide more than 200,000 people with water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Paraguay by 2021. These efforts can benefit people in communities across these countries by increasing productivity and attendance at work and school; reducing costs to individuals, families and governments; helping to reduce disease; and reducing the amount of effort and time spent having to collect, carry and boil water.

Launched in 2017, the Water + Access Alliance aims to increase safe water access and self-sustainable water management models for rural communities in Brazil. The alliance of partners contains some of the leading water access organizations in Brazil who combine their resources to expand the impact. The alliance directly impacts 100 communities and 50,000 people from eight Brazilian states. In addition to our financial investment, Coca-Cola Brazil and Coca-Cola Institute Brazil coordinate and manage the alliance, evaluating the impact generated and mobilizing new partners and investors in order to expand the program.

At The Coca-Cola Company, we believe helping build stronger communities will result in a stronger business. In Latin America, we make investments that are aligned with the sustainability and environmental priorities of our organization. I’m proud of the work our company has done to incorporate sustainability efforts into our business – concentrating on people, our local communities, and our beverages. By focusing on these business-critical issues, we can continue to create shared opportunity through our growth for generations to come. 

Our Latin America group represents 39 countries with more than 500 million consumers and an industry retail value of $90 billion. With our 49 bottling partners, we serve more than 4 million customers in the region through four business units: Mexico, Brazil, South Latin and Latin Center.