Protests at Coca Cola sponsorship of World Water Forum

Coca Cola's sponsorship of the upcoming World Water Forum, the global summit aiming to improve access to freshwater worldwide, is out of line with the event's stated objective say Indian campaigners.

The fourth World Water Forum (Mexico City, March 16-22) aims to bring together politicians, water management professionals and NGOs to aid cooperation for “better living standards for people all over the world and a more responsible social behaviour towards water issues in-line with the pursuit of sustainable development.”

The Indian Resource Centre NGO says that Coca Cola is sponsoring the event as a “publicity manoeuvre” to whitewash over its record of wasteful water use and pollution.

India feels the effects of the drinks giant’s wasteful and polluting behaviour particularly strongly, says Amit Sirvastava of the Indian Resource Centre:

“Coca-Cola’s water use ratio in India is 4 to 1 – that is, 75% of the freshwater it extracts is turned into wastewater. The company has indiscriminately discharged its wastewater into the surrounding fields, severely polluting the scarce remaining groundwater as well as soil.”

Globally, the company’s water use ratio is 2.7 to 1 on average – meaning 63% of the water it takes from the ground is discharged as waste, he says.

Last year Indian courts ordered Coca Cola to close one of its plants, which they said polluted local water resources (see related story)

The company has also been accused of causing water shortages through its use of almost 300 billion litres of water a year.

Coca Cola defends its environmental record, saying that water is its “lifeblood” and that it aims to “invest in the sustainability of this critical resource.” It says it is the “most efficient industrial water user among peer companies.”

By Goska Romanowicz

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