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Water for Our Future Q&A Series

As part of the regional planning process of the 7th World Water Forum, World Wildlife Fund and The Coca-Cola Company are hosting Water for Our Future—an event convening influential voices from government, civil society and business to explore issues and solutions to the world’s water challenges. Through collective action, we hope to achieve greater scale and impact to catalyze action to value, conserve and protect the planet’s fresh water.

Leading up to Water for Our Future, WWF and Coca-Cola will be sharing responses to water-related questions from select event participants to initiate discussion and continue to raise awareness of our global water challenges. Kicking off the Water for Our Future Q&A Series is WWF’s Karin Krchnak and The Coca-Cola Company’s Greg Koch.

Q&A with Greg Koch
Director, Global Water Stewardship
The Coca-Cola Company


What is your first memory of water?

I remember being at a pool in Germany with my family. I was at the top of a slide that seemed huge to me at the time. My father was at the bottom and was encouraging me to slide down as he would catch me. I was scared but eventually let go. I was on that slide for hours after that – so much fun

What is the biggest issue in water today?

The lack of effective and integrated policy on water resource management. Most governments have a history of abundance with water supplies but are now facing gaps and other challenges with water (e.g., pollution, infrastructure). One-sided policies, like agriculture, that ignore other water needs and absolute limits on water supply need to be changed.

What steps should be taken to address it?

Clearly, policy reform is needed. But not just for water: most places face a mix of challenges in energy, food production, and water. This nexus of issues requires multi-variant analyses, policy and action that evaluates and addresses the tradeoffs required to meet needs for all three – the water, agriculture, and energy ministries working together. Research, multi-stakeholder discussions, testing of ideas, debates, and, ultimately, some tough decisions on tradeoffs will need to happen.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about water?

The fact that water is a finite resource and that we are ‘running out of water.’ It is true that the amount of water on Earth is fixed but it is infinitely renewable – we have all been drinking the same water over again. When you think of water ‘running out,’ you start to think that using water is a bad thing (like carbon emissions). Yes, wasting water or over-abstracting what can sustainably be supplied by nature is important. But, the time and place you are using water, as well as what you do with water, is important. Using ‘a lot’ of water (whatever you think ‘a lot’ is) is not necessarily a bad thing; life takes water and we need to work in harmony with others and nature to sustain that resource in every time and place.

If the World Water Forum could accomplish one thing, what would it be?

I hope that the Forum adds to the awareness level of the major challenges we all face on water but also helps one see that there are solutions. The solutions may involve some tough choices but we shouldn’t be waiting for a magic technology, vaccine or cure to our water woes.

How would you like to see your counterparts in other sectors help advance solutions/solve the challenges impacting fresh water (e.g., As a public sector agency, what do you think the role of the private sector is? As an NGO, what roles should government and companies fill)?

All three sectors need to not only think of what they can do individually, in their operations, but what they can (and must) do together.


Greg Koch will participate in the “Green Growth, Water Stewardship and Industry” panel discussion at Water for Our Future, an event helping shape the agenda for the 7th World Water Forum. He leads The Coca-Cola Company’s global water stewardship strategy and has managed the Company’s global partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) since its announcement in 2007. Read more about Coca-Cola’s water stewardship program and the Company’s partnership with WWF.


Q&A with Karin Krchnak
Director, Freshwater Program
World Wildlife Fund


What's your first memory of water?

My first real memory of water is around the age of 7 when I was “captain” of a boat on the Danube River. My uncle worked on the boat in then Czechoslovakia and they let me sit at the pilot’s wheel for a minute. It probably wasn’t really allowed but it was amazing to be in control of a boat on the mighty Danube River!

What is the biggest issue in water today?

The biggest issue today is how to make the really tough tradeoff decisions when considering how to manage our water resources. Do we prioritize energy, agriculture, water supply, and ecosystem conservation? How do we change mindsets so nature’s need for fresh water is considered alongside the needs of communities, businesses and other users? The demands being placed on rivers, lakes and aquifers are enormous and no one wants to “lose” their opportunity to make use of water. But because the environment is still not really considered in decision-making, our freshwater ecosystems are “losing,” and that impacts all of us.

What steps should be taken to address it?

Governments, business, NGOs and communities need to work together to better manage water resources collectively, transparently, and informed by science. Watersheds need to be managed as such. Our own constructs around political boundaries should take into account the actual hydrological cycle and functionality of freshwater ecosystems.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about water?

I think the biggest misconception is that because water underpins everything, water is simply a cross-cutting issue and handling it that way will ensure we have enough water for all our needs. There are no silver bullet solutions or quick technical fixes that will solve our water problems. These are not problems that a vaccine-type approach can solve.

If the World Water Forum could accomplish one thing, what would it be?

The 7th World Water Forum is several months in advance of the setting of the post 2015 agenda and a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. My hope is that the power of the Forum—through the political, regional and thematic processes—can be harnessed to drive a dedicated goal on water.

How would you like to see your counterparts in other sectors help advance solutions/solve the challenges impacting fresh water (e.g., As a public sector agency, what do you think the role of the private sector is? As an NGO, what roles should government and companies fill)?

As an NGO representative, I would urge others to become more engaged in collective action in watersheds for the long-term health of our freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide us all. More and more companies are certainly coming out of their own four walls to engage with stakeholders. Governments speak of integrated water management, although the progress is minimal, unfortunately. The value of freshwater ecosystems needs to be incorporated into decision making processes in earnest.


Karin Krchnak will participate in the “Preparing for the 7th World Water Forum” panel discussion at Water for Our Future, an event helping shape the agenda for the 7th World Water Forum. She leads World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Freshwater Program and is a member of the WWF and The Coca-Cola Company global partnership team. Read more about WWF’s Freshwater Program and WWF’s partnership with The Coca-Cola Company.


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