Gauteng and NW Province

Coca-Cola seeks to clean up African water supply

Drinks giant understood to be among seven companies planning to join Water Futures Partnership
By Jessica Shankleman
31 Aug 2012

Coca-Cola is seeking to invest in a series of water stewardship projects across Africa, and join a collaborative environmental initiative that aims to reduce water stress in supply chains globally.

The Water Futures Partnership, established by brewing giant SAB Miller, German development bank GIZ and campaign group WWF, announced yesterday that it is planning to rebrand itself, in an attempt to broaden its membership and expand its reach.

The newly titled Water Futures Initiative will include a steering committee and a new secretariat that will act as a central resource to help support local water management projects.

Greg Koch, director of global water stewardship for the Coca-Cola Company, told BusinessGreen it is keen to join the new initiative and is already finalising plans for four separate projects.

SAB Miller is one of the biggest franchise bottlers and distributors of Coca-Cola outside of the US, including in South Africa and Tanzania, providing strong foundations for any new partnership.

“We’re in the final development stages of what these projects could look like, although a decision has yet to be reached,” said Koch.

“We really like the partnership approach and hope to be a part of the Water Futures Initiative, but we can’t make the decision right now because the concept is still a bit too fluid.”

He added that Coca-Cola was likely to make a decision on joining the group in early 2013, once the rebranding has been finalised.

Since starting in 2009, the existing Water Futures Partnership has established projects in nine countries, by investing in initiatives to reduce water stress in the supply chain.

This week, Zambia became the latest country to benefit from the initiative, with a project to clean up the Itawa Springs, in the city of Ndola.

However, the partnership is keen to create a “critical mass” of businesses and organisations working together to improve water management in the supply chain, which would combine the expertise and financial backing from businesses, NGOs and government development agencies.

Robin Farrington, senior policy adviser for international water policy and infrastructure at GIZ, said the group was talking to six or seven companies about joining the partnership, up to four of which are on the verge of signing up.
He said GIZ was also looking to provide funding for the initiative to continue running for the next six years.

Koch said Coca-Cola was seriously considering investing in four water stewardship projects across Africa, based on the collaborative model that the Water Futures Partnership employs.

One project on the table would be based in Dar es Salaam, the economic capital of Tanzania, where Coca-Cola operates a bottling plant through its subsidiary Sabco. The other projects being considered are in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

Koch added that the company was attracted to the so-called “golden triangle” concept, in which businesses, NGOs and governments collaborate to improve environmental conditions.

“There’s only so much you can do unilaterally and there’s not enough collective action occurring, so a step in the right direction is to get all three elements working together, so we’re working multilaterally,” he said

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