Water is fundamental for life and survival on Earth. The use of water has intensified dramatically over recent decades and in many places we are now at a point where water shortages, water quality degradation and aquatic ecosystem destruction are seriously limiting the prospects for socio-economic and political stability as well as ecosystem integrity. Recognizing that water is critical for sustainable development, the United Nations designated 2013 the Year of Water Cooperation, and will focus on the lessons that can be learned from successful water cooperation initiatives.
Without clean water and improved sanitation services, no country can meet its sustainable development goals. Advances in health, food security, access to energy, resilient economic growth and climate change all depend on water. The lack of access to clean drinking water and subsequent exposure to waterborne illnesses remains a leading cause of death worldwide, affecting women and children most of all among poor communities.
To address such water and sanitation challenges, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) formed a unique partnership to foster community-based solutions. The Every Drop Matters Water Partnership began in 2006 and focuses on Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions. Working with local authorities and community groups in these countries, Every Drop Matters supports innovative projects that improve access to clean water and sanitation. With attention to water stewardship, governance and public awareness, the program helps build local capacities for sustainable water management.
Every Drop Matters is a cooperative model of how private sector partnerships can work towards sustainable development. Breaking from the conventional donor approach, UNDP and TCCC work as partners, from project identification through to implementation, advocacy and communication. It is a functional cooperation, drawing on the partners’ respective strengths.
The Every Drop Matters initiative has implemented more than 50 projects in some 20 countries, partnered with more than 30 NGOs/ CBOs; and as a result, 320,000 people have gained access to water and sanitation services, around 204,000 people have gained increased resilience to water-related climate change impacts and more than 166,000 individuals have gained knowledge of how to use water more responsibly. This innovative water cooperation mechanism is a model worthy of examination and replication.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not (necessarily) reflect REVOLVE's editorial stance.