With increased water stress around the world, more and more companies are elevating water as a strategic priority. Water is critical to everything we do and contributes to our social, environmental and economic well-being.

At Deloitte Consulting LLP (Deloitte), we help companies understand and quantify the current and potential water risks that can impact their business and implement solutions to address them. In dealing with the magnitude of global water challenges we need an ecosystem of stakeholders to scale solutions – the public sector, private sector, NGOs and civil society. The role of the private sector working with other stakeholders in “Aligned Action” programs is having a positive impact by scaling solutions.

Water is a main ingredient in Coca-Cola’s beverages – it is used in its manufacturing processes, essential to the communities where it operates and water is a key aspect of their sustainability program. As part of their global water stewardship strategy, Coca-Cola set a goal to replenish the water used in its finished beverages back to nature and to the surrounding communities. For the past couple of years, Coca-Cola has engaged Deloitte to review and validate the quantification of their water-related replenish benefits against their global goal. Deloitte also responds to questions from vendors and external organizations related to the program policies, and provides technical guidance to the replenish project teams. The validation effort is an important component of Coca-Cola’s replenish program and contributes to stakeholder confidence in the program.    

Will Sarni
Will Sarni

Coca-Cola announced this week that it is on track to meet 100 percent water replenishment five years ahead of schedule. Deloitte verified that the Coca-Cola system is balancing the equivalent of an estimated 94 percent of the water used in its finished beverages based on 2014 sales volume. Since 2004, Coca-Cola has replenished an estimated 153.6 billion liters through 209 community water projects in more than 61 countries.

Verification serves an important function to the process as an independent layer of program review. Deloitte is proud to be part of this accomplishment through our validation effort. Yet it is important to acknowledge that verifying programs also means that not every project is counted. This year we collectively (Deloitte and Coca-Cola) identified several projects that didn’t track well enough to count against the overall progress and removed them from the quantification. Those projects still operate and provide water to communities. While there was not enough quantitative data to verify, identifying them contributes to improvement of the program over time.

When companies such as Coca-Cola meet ambitious commitments as part of their water stewardship strategy it sends a strong message to stakeholders about to the importance of private sector involvement within a “water ecosystem” of stakeholders. This effort activates the ecosystem to scale solutions to tackle both water scarcity and water quality. And it demonstrates that businesses integrating water stewardship into their overall business operations to address economic, environmental and social issues. Ultimately, we can hope these type of results clearly demonstrate the value of a water stewardship strategy coupled with data validation and transparency.

Will Sarni is director and practice leader for Enterprise Water Strategy at Deloitte Consulting LLP