Coca-Cola will allocate P25 mil-lion over the next five years for reha-bilitation and conservation work in the Ipo watershed in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund-Philippines (WWF-PH), the company announced this week.
The Coca-Cola company in the Philippines comprises Coca-Cola Philippines and its bottling partner, Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines.
The five-year program, for which Coca-Cola is allocating P25 million, will focus on the area of SapangMunti in the town of Norzagaray in Bulacan, within the area of the Ipo watershed. The program will be implemented through a partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines and the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Inc., the company explained.
“Delivering social and economic value is central to the way we do business. We are excited to have this opportunity to participate actively in the promotion and protection of our watersheds and natural resources to support the sustainability of our communities,” Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines Fabricio Ponce said.
President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines Diego Granizo added, “The protection and conservation of our natural resources, particularly water, are two of the major thrusts of the company.”
As a major water user, the Coca-Cola company has set a goal of “100 percent replenishment,” returning to the environment or affected communities the same amount of water used in the production of its beverages, the company said in a statement. It highlighted other water conservation initiatives it is already pursuing, such as its Agos Water Stewardship Program to help increase access to safe water for communities and small farmers while protected watershed areas.
“The support of the private sector is crucial in the conservation and rehabilitation of the Ipo Watershed-SapangMunti, which provides the water supply for over 12 million people living in and around Metro Manila. The five-year project will focus on improving the status of the watershed through a joint effort with the local communities,” said Jose Angelito Palma, President and Chief Executive Officer of WWF-Philippines.
WWF-PH explained that the five-year program would focus primarily on the development of a management plan and governance system, particularly on forest protection and rehabilitation, awareness campaigns, capacity building, and environmental education. Some of the pressing concerns in the watershed are the conversion of open grasslands and forest degradation. The program aims to improve the management of the SapangMunti micro-watershed to increase groundwater recharge, and to minimize erosion and siltation, which leads to disruptions in the delivery of water services, increasing the cost of filtering and reducing dam life.
The environmental group stressed that deforestation through illegal logging and the agricultural method of “kaingin” (slash-and-burn land clearing) is still prevalent in the Sierra Madre mountain range and in the surrounding areas of the Ipo watershed. The rehabilitation and management program aims to contribute to the sustainability of the watershed and the communities surrounding it by helping to improve monitoring of the area.
In a related development, the parent company of Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, the Monterrey, Mexico-based Coca-Cola FEMSA, was recognized last week by Dow Jones for its sustainability record by being included on the Dow Jones Sustainability Emerging Markets Index, “for its excellent performance in the economic, social, and environmental fields,” according to a statement from Dow Jones.
Coca-Cola FEMSA is one of the iconic brand’s largest manufacturers, with more than 100,000 employees and 63 bottling facilities worldwide, of which 19 are located in the Philippines.