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As the judges review applications for the 2015 P3 Impact Award, we are taking a look back at last year’s finalists. Next on our list is The Coca-Cola Company and the World Wildlife Fund: Partnering to Protect Freshwater Resources. In the second installment of our series, we spoke with Suzanne Apple, Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at WWF.

Concordia: How did this project come about? Whose idea was it, and how did Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund decide to partner on it?

Creating a strong foundation for partnership took years of planning, alignment and relationship building. This journey began in 2003 with exploratory talks about how we might work together, and continued in 2004 with a philanthropic grant to support WWF’s freshwater work. Since then, the relationship has evolved from donor and beneficiary to collaborators, and finally to partners. Water is the primary ingredient in nearly every product that Coca-Cola makes, and the company is well aware that their business depends on the availability of fresh water in the communities where they operate. Conserving freshwater ecosystems is also a top priority for WWF.  With this common goal in mind, we launched the partnership in 2007 to help conserve the world’s freshwater resources for nature, communities and business.



C: What was it like being selected as a P3 Impact Award Finalist?

We were honored to be selected among several other unique initiatives that are harnessing innovation to address pressing social and environmental challenges. WWF and The Coca-Cola Company have worked together for so long and accomplished so much through the power of partnership; it was really rewarding to see that integral aspect of our work recognized.

C: What has the partnership been working on since the 2014 P3 Impact Award winner was chosen?

We’re proud that the partnership has helped the Azunosa sugar mill in Honduras become the first Bonsucro-certified cane producer in Central America and the Caribbean. Azunosa is a supplier to The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners in the region, and its sustainability efforts will have a big impact on its supply chain. This certification is the culmination of years of work by the partnership. Our efforts are helping to expand certification into new geographies, especially those regions that WWF sees as critical to conservation.

“We strongly believe that by working with the private sector we can harness the global marketplace as a force for conservation.”

C: What other partnerships has WWF been working on since the 2014 P3 Impact Award Winner was chosen?

We’ve recently launched an ambitious new project with Apple to help protect China’s forests and a multi-faceted collaboration with Hilton Worldwide to improve the company’s business practices on water stewardship, seafood sustainability, renewable energy, and food waste. We strongly believe that by working with the private sector we can harness the global marketplace as a force for conservation.

C: How has your partnership helped you accomplish things that Coca-Cola and WWF could not have done on their own?

We simply could not have accomplished what we have, at the scale we have, without the power of this partnership. Water may ultimately be a local issue, but addressing water resource management challenges requires global solidarity and regional actions.

WWF works in over 100 countries and Coca-Cola has operations in more than 200 countries and territories. The convening power of both organizations enables us to bring a broad array of perspectives to the table and foster meaningful collaboration. You need that kind of reach to engender real change on an issue as complex as water. By bringing together all of these various stakeholders, and backing it with our expertise, credibility and brand power, we can influence how water resources are allocated and governed.

C: Coca-Cola and WWF have renewed their partnership through 2020. What are some of the goals you hope to have accomplished by that point?

We hope by 2020 that we are well on the way to sustainably managed basins, particularly in the Mesoamerican Reef catchments in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras and the Yangtze River basin in China. This means more partners from more sectors will be working collectively to secure these watersheds for people and nature. In addition, we have worked with Coca-Cola to set aggressive reduction goals in water and carbon—25% improvement in water efficiency and 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020. We’re keen to see the impact achieving these goals will have for Coca-Cola and its overall water and carbon footprint.