Meeting the SDGs: The Greatest Global Change Happens Together

At Coca-Cola, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are championed as an important framework for collective action and impact on the systemic challenges our world faces. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, the SDGs include 17 goals on everything from ending extreme poverty to gender equality, water quality, zero hunger, decent work and clean, affordable energy. Achieving the SDGs’ ambitions will require collaboration and contributions from all sectors – business, government and civil society.

Coca-Cola has long embraced cross-sector collaboration as a best practice for addressing global challenges, as exemplified through meaningful partnerships and programs, many of which align with the SDGs.

The company’s sustainability priorities map to all 17 SDGs, with an emphasis on SDGs that relate most closely to where it believes it can make the greatest impact. Coca-Cola is strongly focused in the areas of gender equity (SDG 5), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), life below water (SDG 14), and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17).

Coca-Cola’s water stewardship portfolio supports SDG 6. In particular, the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) aims to reach at least 6 million people throughout Africa with improved and sustainable access to safe water by 2020. At the end of 2017, with more than 140 partners, RAIN had already provided safe drinking water to more than 2.8 million people in Africa and supported water, sanitation and hygiene programs (WASH) in more than 2,000 communities across 40 African countries.

In 2014, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Coca-Cola established a partnership, “New World: Inclusive Sustainable Human Development Initiatives,” to address five priority areas identified in a global 2013 UN My World Survey as critical for sustainable human development: good education, better job opportunities, access to clean water and sanitation, and protecting rivers. This partnership was strengthened further by the alliance with Global Water Challenge in 2016.

Focused on SDGs 4 (quality education), 5, 6, and 17, the New World partnership operates in 19 countries across Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and has benefitted more than 1.5 million people in its first two years. New World has delivered the most impact to date around SDGs 5 and 6, with a strong focus on WASH and women’s empowerment. The program has helped women develop business skills and establish their own businesses, encouraged young people to become agents of change, piloted innovative water access and management solutions, and improved access to sanitation.

Coca-Cola has also integrated SDGs 12 and 14 into the design of its new World Without Waste initiative, created to reshape the company’s approach to packaging, which includes a goal to help collect and recycle the equivalent of 100 percent of its packaging by 2030. The company is investing significantly in its contribution to reducing the world’s waste, but the issue is bigger than one company’s commitment. Progress and lasting change will come only through the mobilization of global resources, know-how and expertise.

Since their adoption in 2015 by the UN General Assembly, Coca-Cola has incorporated the SDGs into the annual reporting of its sustainability programs. The SDGs are cross-referenced with the company’s global Sustainability Report and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) index.

Designed to put the world on a more sustainable path, the SDGs identified 169 targets to achieve by 2030. Although that may seem far off, the world has less than 12 years to get there. Coca-Cola will continue to partner for progress and use its voice to support the implementation of the SDGs and the collective action required to achieve them. The goals are ambitious, but the greatest change happens together.

As first appeared in , Apr 2018