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SABMiller Opens Zambia Water Project, Seeks More Corporate Members

SABMiller’s Water Futures Partnership, run with the WWF and German development agency GIZ, is starting a project aimed at reducing pollution to a Zambian spring that feeds an SABMiller subsidiary – as it emerges that Coca-Cola may be the second company to join the partnership.

For the Itawa Spring project in the city of Ndola, the partnership will work with the National Heritage Conservation Commission, the Zambian Department of Water Affairs, Water Board, the Zambian Department of Forestry, Ndola City Council and local community to develop a long term protection plan, and then implement measures to secure the spring. SABMiller subsidiary Zambian Breweries uses the spring’s water at its Ndola brewery.

SABMiller, WWF and GIZ formed the Water Futures Partnership in 2009, aiming to take a collaborative approach to water scarcity at a local level by recognizing business, community and environmental interests. The partnership is currently running on-the-ground projects to increase water security in nine countries including South Africa, India, Peru and Tanzania.

In September 2011, the Water Futures Partnership founders began asking businesses, NGOs and other organizations to join the group to improve its actions. The three founder members said that they wanted to spread membership throughout the public, private and nonprofit sector and broaden the coalition’s work to four more countries: Colombia, Honduras, India and the US.

Partnership leaders say they’ll be rebranding the group as the Water Futures Initiative, and furthering the group’s evolution by establishing an international steering committee and secretariat. The steering committee will provide a governance framework with the secretariat acting as a central resource to help build the capacity of local partnerships and manage budgets.  A new charter expresses the shared views and aims of this initiative.

Now it has been reported that Coca-Cola is planning to join the partnership, and has plans for four projects under the initiatives. Director of global water stewardship Greg Koch told BusinessGreen that his company is attracted by SABMiller’s status as one of the biggest Coca-Cola distributors outside the US.

According to SABMiller’s most recent sustainability report, the company reduced its water consumption and carbon emissions per hectoliter of lager produced by 5 percent and 10 percent in the financial year ending March 31, compared to 2011 levels. The company has set a target across operations to become 25 percent more water-efficient by 2015, using 2008 as a base level. Since setting the target, SABMiller says its water efficiency has improved by 13 percent, the report says.

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