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Sharing Water—It’s Going to Take We, You and Me

  • Date: 19 May 2017
  • Author: Greg Koch, Senior Director, Global Water Stewardship, The Coca-Cola Company
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Water is a finite resource—Earth has a fixed amount—but it is infinitely renewable. Since all water is renewed through natural processes, it means we—people, nature, business, farmers, and governments—always have and always will share the same water.

That level of sharing, through the continuous cycle of water, is global, and probably doesn’t feel personal to anyone.  But sharing water also happens at the local level, everywhere, and this should be personal.

On June 5, we will co-host a conference, Sharing Water, with our partner World Wildlife Fund (WWF), along with the World Water Council (WWC).  The event presents an opportunity to play a role in WWC’s official, regional process for North America in preparation for 8th World Water Forum—the world’s largest meeting on water, or as some refer to it: the “Olympics of water.”  Discussions and output from the convening will be documented and provided to the organizers of the 8th Forum to help set the agenda and potentially contribute to its outcomes.

Our regional event will focus on a subset of themes for the 8th Forum, water and: development, finance, people, and ecosystems.  Most important is the over-arching theme of sharing water, which is a powerful one.

Everyone and everything requires water in a given time and place, whether it’s at home to bathe your children, outdoors for recreational fun, in hand to quench your thirst, or on a farm to grow the food you consume. How much water you use and what you do to affect its quality matters to everyone in your community sharing the same water resource.

When you think of sharing water it can become easier to understand that we all need to be a part of paying for water infrastructure (financing), helping keep it clean (people), and conserving watersheds (ecosystems).

This concept drives our water stewardship program at Coca-Cola. Our business is mainly producing beverages and selling them to adjacent communities. So while we are certainly focused on sustainable use of water in our plants, being efficient, and making sure the water we discharge is clean, we also step out of our bottling plants to work with governments, communities, civil society, and even our competitors to help protect nature and address health issues through safe water access.  We not only share the water, but also the responsibility of helping to protect and conserve it.

Our hope for the June 5 event is to build on this theme and help guide future discussions toward more collaborative solutions for water issues.  We all need water and can’t look to any one actor to solve its challenges.  Yes, it will take government, civil society, farmers, and industry, but it also takes you and me.

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