United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon joined schoolchildren recently in Sochi, southern Russia, for a lesson using the Black Sea Box – an interactive education kit that spotlights the need to protect and clean up the Black Sea.

The Black Sea Box project is one of many supported by Every Drop Matters a partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and the United Nations Development Programme. Together, we are working to protect and better manage water resources and to help more people gain access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Education initiatives like the Black Sea Box are badly needed in an area where water pollution from major cities has been a major problem. The Black Sea Box therefore targets two million schoolchildren (ages 9-12) in the six countries around the Black Sea, as part of a broader effort to raise awareness of the need to protect this vital natural resource.

Black Sea Box

UN photographer Eskinder Debebe

Containing over 50 educational games, the Box has already been included in school curricula in Turkey, Ukraine and Russia. Every Drop Matters is now developing versions for Romania and Bulgaria, with another for Georgia also planned.

Addressing students and teachers in Sochi (a resort on the shores of the Black Sea where the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held), Ban Ki-Moon said that the global community should consider water conservation a top priority. “We have to protect water, both for the health and well-being of people and for the future of our planet”.

He also highlighted how sustainability goes beyond borders, saying: “You live in Sochi, Russia, but you should also think of yourselves as global citizens, caring about our common planet”.

Every Drop Matters funds almost 100 innovative projects in 25 countries, from Croatia to Sri Lanka, from Belarus to Yemen – protecting and conserving water resources, and helping communities gain much-needed access to water supplies and sanitation.

This year is the International Year of Water Cooperation, and The Coca-Cola Company has pledged US$2 million to Every Drop Matters, bringing its contributions to a total of US$11 million since the program was launched in 2006. More than 800 thousand people have positively benefited from the project, with over 300 thousand of them enjoying improved access to safe drinking water.

Aydan Olcer

Why is this important to me? Every drop of water is life. I think that we as global citizens all have role to play in conserving and making water top priority today.

Aydan Olcer is the Group Corporate Affairs Manager for Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa.