The Rivers Trust and Coca-Cola Foundation launch major new programme of green infrastructure projects
The Rivers Trust and The Coca-Cola Foundation today launch a new three-year programme which will help clean some of Britain’s most polluted rivers, reduce flood risk, and create new wetland habitats in both rural and urban locations across the country.
Encompassing six distinct water management, environmental restoration and conservation projects, the “green infrastructure” initiative will improve water quality and sequester carbon in the Thames and South East basins – one of Britain’s most water-stressed regions.
Additional commitments include further peatland restoration on the Kent coast and rural land management in the North East of England. Collectively, these will reduce flood risk, store carbon, enhance habitat and biodiversity, and enhance the health and well-being of local communities.
Specifically, the three-year programme will:
- Replenish 1.6 billion litres of water
- Capture or absorb at least 10 tonnes of carbon per year – the equivalent of carbon emitted by 7,922 passenger vehicles during the same period*
- Create at least four major urban wetlands to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, and provide new natural habitat for wildlife and local communities to enjoy
- Create 20 smaller settling wetlands to trap agricultural pollutants
- Restore 66 hectares of ancient coastal Ham Fen peatland in Kent, which will improve biodiversity through habitat restoration for over 30 bird, animal and rare plant species
- Plant 9,000 trees near Morpeth, Northumberland and work with local farmers to help lock in carbon, alleviate pollution and reduce local flood risk
- Engage with a range of businesses to encourage better water management in their supply chains through the Water Stewardship Service
- Develop a framework for a new nationwide Catchment Monitoring Cooperative to ignite citizen science and empower local communities by making them part of the water quality decision-making process in their local environment.
As well as receiving funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the project will be supported by Coca-Cola European Partners and a minimum of 360 days’ volunteering from employees at Coca-Cola European Partners and Coca-Cola Great Britain’s local offices. The projects will be delivered by regional Rivers Trusts, including Thames21, South East Rivers Trust, and Northumberland Rivers Trust along with Kent Wildlife Trust.
This programme builds on the existing eight-year partnership between The Coca-Cola Foundation and The Rivers Trust, which began with a collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to protect chalk stream rivers and support water sensitive farming in East Anglia. During this time, the partnership has carried out a variety of innovative water and soil health projects including the creation of a major urban wetland in North London to improve urban water quality, restoration of several hectares of ancient Ham Fen peatland and installation of a ‘Downstream Defender’ – an innovative centrifugal drum to trap urban pollution – in Richmond, London.
Mark Lloyd, CEO of The Rivers Trust, said:
“The Rivers Trust is delighted to work with The Coca-Cola Foundation on this exciting programme. Our rivers and chalk streams face countless threats and by supporting this programme to protect these valuable resources, Coca-Cola has shown that it’s not only the right thing to do but it also makes great business sense. We’re looking forward to collaborating with the whole team on this important project and making a real difference to our water and the wildlife and communities which rely on these unique habitats.”
Annually, The Coca-Cola Foundation supports conservation and restoration projects worldwide which are in alignment with the broader Coca-Cola Company water stewardship strategy which is committed to protecting, reducing, recycling and replenishing 100% of the water it uses in its drinks production.
Liz Lowe, Head of Sustainability at Coca-Cola GB, said: “Water stewardship is at the heart of our business as water is the most important ingredient in all our drinks.
“We’re extremely excited to be supporting this important work and to help The Rivers Trust teams show the measurable and multiple benefits of using these kinds of nature-based solutions to help build resilience in our communities. It’s abundantly clear that nature needs us now like never before. We believe that by working in partnership with civil society to contribute to watershed health, including thriving water systems and habitats, we can not only contribute to clean, healthy rivers and aquifers upon which our business relies, but to prosperous natural systems on which we all depend. We hope other businesses will join us in this approach.”