Partnering to Protect the Lifeline of Europe

There has never been a greater need for us to protect and restore our freshwater resources in Europe. Water is essential to hygiene, public health and safety.

One area where water plays an essential role in the safety and wellbeing of our communities  is the area of the Danube , the world’s most international river basin.

Linking 10 countries along nearly 3,000 km of the river and its tributaries, the Danube sustains countless human and natural habitats, providing flood protection, drinking water and recreation. No wonder it is considered by many to be the lifeline of Europe.

Every year, on June 29th, the countries along the river basin celebrate and honor the Danube and its essential ecosystem with Danube Day.

The Danube needs our active support. It is estimated that 80 percent of the floodplains and wetlands along the river have disappeared over the past 150 years, resulting in plummeting fish and wildlife populations, and worsening water quality. 

Damage like this means these areas are no longer able to support biodiversity or provide protection from floodwaters to surrounding villages.

To help mitigate these risks and our dependency on proper water management in the region, in 2014, we joined forces with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), to help restore these vital wetlands and floodplains, with financial support from The Coca‑Cola Foundation.

This unique, cross-sectoral cooperation, called the Living Danube Partnership, has brought together the political framework of the ICPDR and its member governments; the resources and capabilities of our Coca‑Cola system and The Coca‑Cola Foundation; and the capacity and know-how of WWF. The collaboration has proven to be successful on many levels.

At Coca‑Cola, we see water as a shared resource. We know it must be treated with respect and handled carefully.

Reducing the water we use, recycling it and giving back more than we use in production are fundamental in how we think and behave as a business. 

Thanks to the work of the players in the Living Danube Partnership, we are on track to replenish 12.85 million m3 of water (enough to fill 4,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools) and restore over 6,829 ha of vital wetlands, rivers and floodplains at 11 sites in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania by 2021.

To achieve our goals in the Danube region, we’re working with local stakeholders, municipalities and landowners to connect river stretches or floodplains to the river system by opening dams, installing sluices for water retention and improving water supply channels. At the same time, we’re helping create a regional movement for wetland conservation and restoration, while promoting good water stewardship.

We can’t achieve any of this without a sound regulatory framework, particularly because water risk is so closely aligned with climate risk. The two need to be considered in a broader environmental policy.

Coca‑Cola, along with over 25 other companies, joined its voice with the 375,000 European citizens of the #Protectwater campaign in advocating so that the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) will not to be “watered down”. And the recent Commission announcement, confirmed that this important legislation is fit-for-purpose and will not be changed.

But there is still an enormous mountain to climb for all of us – businesses, governments, NGOs and citizens - if we’re to protect our most precious resource.

The Living Danube partnership, is a living proofpoint, that working together is vital if we are to safeguard the supply of water in the EU, stop and reverse the decline in biodiversity and tackle climate change.

Here you can visit virtually the most important project achievements within the program.

If you are interested to learn about the details of this great restoration program, you can download the report from here