The Rivers Trust and The Coca-Cola Foundation have reached the ten-year anniversary of their partnership centred around water. Both organisations are now looking towards the future as they continue their commitment to improve the health of rivers and freshwater environments.
Over the past decade, the collaboration between environmental non-governmental organisations (eNGO) and corporation has delivered numerous environmental benefits and positively impacted local communities. The partnership has implemented major improvements to river catchments and has also helped further identify the scale of work required.
Last night, a diverse group of organisations attended a celebratory event to mark the 10-year partnership and to highlight the key risks that our freshwater environments face.
The evening opened with a talk from CEO of The Rivers Trust, Mark Lloyd, on how businesses can address our threatened water supply through nature-based solutions and how small environmental interventions can be replicated at a national level. The talks also reiterated the need for a significant increase in collaborative, cross-sector action.
CEO of The Rivers Trust, Mark Lloyd said, “Water is a resource that touches on every aspect of our lives, every economic activity, environmental consideration, and social implication. The risk around water is too great a problem for individuals, sectors, or organisations alone to solve. Solutions require collaboration at a catchment scale.”
Since its inception, the partnership’s work has focused on several distinct and diverse, water management and environmental conservation projects. All had a common purpose of conserving and enhancing freshwater environments and each project aimed to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, store carbon, enhance habitat and biodiversity, as well as promote the health and well-being of local communities.
The projects have been carried out by member trusts within The Rivers Trust Movement, such as Thames21, South East Rivers Trust, Northumberland Rivers Trust, as well as partner NGOs such as Kent Wildlife Trust. These partnerships have enabled the successful delivery of nature-based solutions through local collaboration that has improved the quality and resilience of their local catchments.
Over the past decade, the partnership has achieved remarkable milestones, including:
- Establishing 171 wetlands, scrapes and ponds which provide natural habitats for wildlife, improving water quality, and reduce flood risk.
- Implementing innovative solutions, to capture run-off therefore diverting it from urban based rivers.
- Restoring an ancient coastal fen (peat) land, revitalising the unique ecosystem, and preserving a large area of natural heritage.
- Engaging with 437 individual farms to deliver advice and support on water sensitive farming practices.
Dusan Stojankic, Vice President of Franchise Operations at Coca-Cola Great Britain and Ireland said, “We recognise the role we must play in ensuring the sustainability of our communities, and water stewardship is a critical part of that. We can only be effective if we work together, and through this long-standing partnership, we continue to tackle the issues communities are facing locally, while mobilising and equipping volunteers with the tools they need to drive change.”
Reflecting on the accomplishments of the past decade, the collaboration between The Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP) has not only enhanced, restored, and created freshwater habitats but also demonstrated the power of long-term partnerships. By combining expertise, resources, and a shared commitment to sustainability, the collaboration has set a benchmark for successful business and eNGO collaboration.
The Rivers Trust is calling for a shared vision of wild, healthy, natural rivers across the UK, Ireland, and beyond. They argue now is a critical time to empower other businesses to act for the benefit of our planet and future generations.
As the planet faces a global climate and biodiversity emergency, the partnership aims to innovate, inspire communities, and focus on sustainable water-sensitive practices.