The Coca-Cola Company in the ASEAN has become an industry model on how private entities can contribute in the global campaign for water security and in mitigating the impact of climate change.
During the Media Forum on Water Security and Climate Change hosted by the United States Agency International Development (USAID), Coca-Cola ASEAN Quality Safety and Environment Director Arnel Cabungcal shared the experiences of the beverage company’s Replenish Program in its regional operations.
The forum was organized to provide an overview and increase the awareness of media on the current water surety and climate change challenges in the Philippines; and to encourage media and journalists to take a more active role in reporting issues and solutions on water.
The various water stewardship programs of Coca-Cola in the ASEAN were handpicked by USAID to be showcased alongside the projects and experiences of the local government of Zamboanga City, the Cagayan de Oro Water District, and the Central Philippine University in Iloilo.
Under the Be Secure Program, USAID and Coca-Cola worked with various governments to build capacity for long-term water security, improved access to water, and the development of more resilient communities.
“Our goal is to give back an amount of water equivalent to what we use in all of our products and their production by 2020. We work with external experts to quantify the impact of our community water partnership projects. And we continue to replenish more today and in the years to come,” said Cabungcal.
Coca-Cola operations in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia are all water neutral, which means that they are able to return to nature and the communities every drop of water used in their beverage production. Other countries in the ASEAN region, including the Philippines, are all progressing with local community water programs to achieve country-level water neutrality while engaging with stakeholders and consumers to share their water partnership story.
Globally, Coca-Cola has already achieved water neutrality in their beverage production since August 2016 through 248 community partnership projects in 71 countries.
In the ASEAN, Coca-Cola also strongly supports watershed protection with 11 projects including the conservation of Thailand’s Klong Yan watershed, the Plain of Reeds in Vietnam’s Mekong River, and a five-year partnership with WWF for the conservation of the Philippines’ Ipo Watershed.
The water replenishment program of Coca-Cola in the ASEAN centers on safe water access and sanitation to rural communities in more established markets like the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, while countries like Laos and Myanmar are providing water access to communities around their bottling facilities.
In every ASEAN country, Coca-Cola has continuously partnered with governments and non-government organizations, following the golden triangle rule – a synergy of cohesive action plan among the private sector, government, and NGOs that will directly benefit the communities.
In the Philippines, hydraulic ram pumps transport fresh water to upland communities without using electricity or fossil fuel. More than 60,000 people have been impacted by 129 ram pump sites across the country.
In Malaysia, Coca-Cola has partnered with Raleigh International since 2006 to bring clean water to over 8,447 villagers in Borneo Island through gravity-fed water supply systems. Since 2015, Coca-Cola has been working with EKOCENTER to provide clean water, solar power and community centers to villages in Vietnam. The Company has also partnered with WWF since 2008 on watershed conservation activities.
A partnership with USAID’s Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IUWASH) project has enabled Coca-Cola to construct rainwater absorption wells in upstream areas that has benefitted 54,744 villagers. The Company is also working with PACT to bring safe drinking water and basic sanitation infrastructure to more than 12,500 villagers in Myanmar.
Coca-Cola has also partnered with Cambodian Women for Peace and Development since 2013 to provide water access to 6,810 people in Phsar Chhang and Kompong through water pipe connections. In Laos, The Company has provided a rainwater harvesting system for 450 rural households using 1,200 large (2,000 liter) rainwater harvesting jars.
In Thailand, Coca-Cola has been working with Utokapat Foundation, HAII, Population and Community Development Association and others since 2007 to enable the RAKNAM platform to reach over 1 million residents.
“While we’re proud of our progress in achieving water neutrality, we can and will do more as we help to change the lives of people in underserved communities across ASEAN,” said Cabungcal.