Alfredo Rivera
Coke's Alfredo Rivera speaks at the 12th annual World Economic Forum on Latin America in São Paulo, Brazil. 
This past week, I had the honor of attending the 12th annual World Economic Forum on Latin America in São Paulo, Brazil. I was born and raised in Latin America, and have worked at The Coca-Cola Company in the region for more than 30 years, so I am very passionate about this important part of the world, which is rich in culture, nature and growing economies.

With tremendous economic growth in the region, an increasingly important focus is around the effective management and use of its diverse human and natural capital resources. This point is underscored by the setting of the WEF regional meeting of the host country, Brazil. It has the ninth-largest economy in the world and the sixth-largest population, and is home to some of the most treasured biodiversity, positioning it as a strong leader in sustainability and conservation efforts. For, Coca-Cola, it is also one of our largest markets for our business in the region and globally.

At The Coca-Cola Company, we believe that helping build stronger communities will result in a stronger business. Central to this approach are the investments we make through our sustainability and environmental work. I’m proud of the work our company has done to incorporate sustainability efforts into our business, focusing on our communities just as much as our beverages.

We view our impact individually but also in the collective, by examining intersections of our work and how one area could positively or negatively impact another. At the crux of effectively managing these issues and resources properly in Latin America, and globally, is the advancement of private and public partnerships.

I was happy to continue to engage in this important dialogue as a panelist during the WEF regional meeting’s “Preserving Our Natural Capital” session, where we discussed how the private and public sectors can strategically align to simultaneously preserve and leverage our environmental goals. Two areas where The Coca-Cola Company is especially focused in this space are water and packaging. 

Our work on water is designed to ensure we use water more efficiently, replenish to communities the same amount of water we use in our products and production and help provide communities in which we work sustainable access to water. We believe the world has enough fresh water to meet growing demands if correctly managed and respected—a key tenet in preserving our natural capital. We work closely with partners like the World Wildlife Fund and the One Drop Foundation to advocate for water security. One such project included significant work with WWF, securing funding to support projects in the Mesoamerican Reef Catchments.

We replenish billions of liters of water to nature across the region through projects focused on watershed protection, conservation and reforestation. In fact, thanks to ambitious programs across Latin America, we are returning more than 120 percent of the water used in our production process to the environment. The “Agua para el Futuro” program helps us partner with and scale efforts of local organizations focused on similar work, including the Amazon Sustainable Foundation and The Latin American Water Funds Partnership.

Simultaneously, our work to reduce the impact of our packaging aspires to a “World Without Waste” for our business. A program where we’re focused on recovering 100 percent of disposable material we put into the marketplace by 2030. This is a massive goal, and we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re partnering with global and regional organizations, national and local governments, civil society and other private sector representatives to develop comprehensive programs on solid waste, recycling cooperatives and circular economies for our bottles and cans.

In Latin America, we have partnered up with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), PepsiCo. and the Avina Foundation to create the Regional Recycling Initiative (IRR). The initiative is a platform that promotes the agenda of Inclusive Recycling in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify innovate approaches, including technology and public policy, to increase the diversity and volume of materials recycled in the region. In Brazil, we are working with our competitors to support 200 recycling cooperatives and to engage governments to strengthen waste management systems.

These are just two of the many initiatives Coca-Cola Latin America is pursuing in this area. They underscore our commitment to growing with conscience. It’s the right thing to do for our business, our consumers and the environment in the communities we serve.

After a productive and inspiring event, I am even more energized to work with Latin American leaders to further the region’s growth, protect its resources and expand its economic potential in years to come.  

Alfredo Rivera is president of The Coca-Cola Company's Latin America Group.