Stakeholders drawn from water related fields in the public sector, non-governmental organizations and corporate organizations including Coca-Cola Nigeria have agreed on the need for increased level of collaborations to tackle the challenges associated with water scarcity and its waste in Nigeria.
Speaking during a sustainable development symposium organized by Pan Atlantic University (Lagos Business School) held at the institution’s campus in Lekki, Lagos held recently in Lagos with the theme ‘From Global Goals to Local Action: Catalyzing Action Towards Sustainable Water Development’ the stakeholders declared that there was the need for government, corporate organizations as well as non-governmental organizations to partner in promoting sustainable water provisions and management in Nigeria which they noted would go a long way in bridging the demand gap for water access in communities. Further speaking at the panel discussion session of the symposium, Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca Cola West Africa Business Unit, Mr. Clem Ugorji stated that it has become increasingly imperative for government and other critical stakeholders to work together to ensure water availability for all considering the population growth and limited access to potable water. Ugorji disclosed that The Coca-Cola Company has been at the forefront of the campaign of sustainability, safe and clean environment through its numerous water initiatives but called for more collaborative and concerted efforts of the relevant stakeholders to ensure that water become readily accessible. He restated the commitment of the company to continue to provide clean water to the environment noting that the drive for water efficiency by the company is anchored on these three key pillars; Reduce, Recycle and Replenish. The company is committed to achieving water neutrality in the year 2020 by reducing the amount of water used.
Ugorji said “We recycle the water we use for manufacturing and return it to the environment safely. We give back to communities through local water initiatives. Beyond that, we also believe we have a broader responsibility to replenish water. In several African countries, we are working with a range of partners to protect and improve water sources and provide access to clean water to communities”.
‘In our bottling plants, we closely monitor our water sources; minimizing the amount of water we extract from local surroundings. I also need to state that between 2015 and 2017 business year in Nigeria alone, we have improved our water use efficiency by 7.5%” he added.
While acknowledging the effort of Coca-Cola and other corporate organizations in the area of waste water collection, Ugorji disclosed that a broader coalition of industry players was already in force to tackle the challenge saying that the coalition remains committed to offering innovative solutions that would bring an end to the problem. Ugorji disclosed that Coca-Cola has been actively involved in driving partnership in the provision of safe and drinkable water in several communities in Nigeria. Ugorji who highlighted the significant effort of Coca-Cola system in the area of water availability and stewardship stressed that it is within its best practice to ensure that the company gives back to the system as much as it is currently consuming. According to him, the company is unrelenting in its commitment to meeting its 2020 water neutrality goal, i.e return to nature or communities equal amount of water its uses for its operation. Also speaking at the symposium, a Don at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Lagos, Prof. Taibat Lawanson explained that there is need for government and the private sectors to work together to ensure efficient availability of water resources to the communities. She attributed the poor delivery of water projects across communities by both government and corporate organizations to lack of proper engagement of the communities emphasizing that there was the need to carry them along right from conceptualization. On his part, the Chief Operating Officer of Lagos State Water Corporation, Engineer Deji Johnson stressed the need for Nigerians as well as corporate organizations to show concern in the manner in which water is used.
He said "We need to show that our water usage is in line with the need to make it sustainable. Let us understand that water is not an infinite product. We have a part to play in water sustainability. The sustainability of water for us depends on the actions we take”.
Affirming the clarion call for collaborations, Johnson said it was impossible for government to do it alone urging corporation organizations to increase the level of support to make water accessible to communities. In her own remarks during the panel discussion, Dr. Ijeoma Nwagwu, a Faculty on Strategy and Sustainability at the Lagos Business School, commended corporate organizations including Coca-Cola for the invaluable role they have played in water sustainability drive over the years. Nwagwu noted that the government cannot afford to ignore the place of the private sector in ensuring a safe and sustainable environment. She advised that all stakeholders should work together to make water more accessible to the people with little or no consequence to the environment.