In 2010, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution by majority vote to officially recognize the human right to water and sanitation and declared that clean drinking water and sanitation are “essential to the realization of all human rights.” The U.N. called upon nations and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity building and technology to help all countries provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all residents.

As a beverage company, we recognize the indispensable nature of water in advancing healthy ecosystems, communities, business, agriculture and commerce. Water is fundamental to life, yet in many areas around the world, it also is under stress. At Coca-Cola, we respect the human and ecological needs for water. We also are engaged in internal and external discussions about what it means in practice to respect the human right to water and sanitation. Through our Water Resource Sustainability program, we have implemented a rights-based approach to water in requiring our operations to assess vulnerabilities to community sources of water, determine potential impacts from our use of water and discharge of wastewater, and then address issues in a Source Water Protection Plan.

As a participant in the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), we are one of a number of businesses committed to aligning our operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. One of the UNGC’s initiatives is the CEO Water Mandate, a unique public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. We were one of the first six companies to commit to the Mandate when the UN launched it in 2007. You can see our progress against the Mandate’s principals here.

As part of our participation in the CEO Water Mandate, we helped fund and develop Water Action Hub, a website that helps NGOs, governments, and communities connect and collaborate on water issues of mutual interest. The Hub connects stakeholders working on such wide-ranging issues as water efficiency, storm water management, sustainable agriculture, source-water protection, effluent management and more. The site also provides profiles of specific water-stressed regions and descriptions of water-related projects in progress. We are also working with the CEO Water Mandate on a guide for business respecting the human right to water and sanitation.

Standing with others for access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene

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In 2012, we were also proud to be the 100th signatory of the WASH Sustainability Charter. The charter is based on sustainability principals developed by more than 50 organizations and overseen by SustainableWash.org, which promotes best practices for sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene. The charter seeks to “align WASH stakeholders around collaboratively developed sustainability principles and catalyze adoption of these principles around the world.” Signatories agree to incorporate these principles and catalyze their adoption worldwide, and to encourage and assist each other by doing so.