In our new publication, titled Rebound: Building a More Resilient World, we asked leaders from various disciplines to share their lessons of what resilience means and what it requires of us. Through the lens of their own experiences, we can begin to explore some of the ways we can help prepare for, withstand and emerge stronger from the acute shocks and chronic stresses of the 21st century. Muhtar Kent Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company discusses how companies can remain resilience and how they can play a part in creating global resilience.
A global business like Coca-Cola has no choice but to be resilient. People enjoy our products in more than 200 countries – and in some corner of the world there is always an external disruption that can have bearing on our business. It is what we call doing business in a “reset world.” For a company like Coca-Cola to be resilient in the “reset world,” we have to keep a close watch on new consumer attitudes; the role of government in economic and commercial affairs; and geopolitical,economic and demographic shifts.
Building a resilient company, organization or community in 2013 requires nothing short of complete and absolute focus. I am a firm believer the challenging times like these are not an excuse to sit back and ride out the storm.
On the contrary, this is the time to confront our current reality head-on,with courage, with tireless determination and with great strategic dexterity.This is exactly the time to focus on what matters most, shed what is wasteful and unproductive, and keep communicating with our customers and stakeholders.
History has shown us, time and again, that the world’s most resilient organizations are those that do more than just prepare for change and turbulence. Instead, they see—and seize—opportunity in the eye of the storm.
At Coca-Cola, our 2020 Vision and Roadmap for Winning Together is an integral component of our resiliency. It is a system-wide plan to double the size of our business over the course of this decade. To reach this ambitious but achievable goal, we have built resilience into the suppliers, retailers,technologies, people and infrastructure that bring our beverages to market every day around the world. Sustainability is a critical factor in driving our vision and creating resiliency across our system.
Indeed, we think the lion’s share of innovation over the next decade will reside at the intersections of sustainability and the supply chain. How do we do more with less? How do we prosper and grow in an era of natural resource scarcity? We have developed many sustainability-minded innovations that are centered on reducing our packaging, energy and water footprint and improving the well being of the communities we serve.
Our supply- and value-chain partners are critical to building resilience. One value-chain innovation we are hard at work on is our effort to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs by 2020. In this effort, called 5by20, we are working with UN Women and numerous government and private sector partners on four continents to bring new resources, tools, ideas and inspiration to women business owners who are part of our Coca-Cola system value chain.
We are also building resilience through our water stewardship efforts.Since 2005, as part of our goal to become water neutral by 2020, we have conducted 386 community water projects in 94 countries, working hand in hand with local governments and partners including World Wildlife Fund(WWF), the United States Agency for International Development, The Nature Conservancy and CARE.
Indeed, we think the lion’s share of innovation over the next decade will reside at the intersections of sustainability and the supply chain. How do we do more with less? How do we prosper and grow in an era of natural resource scarcity?
We have also entered into a long-term global clean water partnership with world renowned innovator Dean Kamen of DEKA R&D to bring Kamen’srevolutionary Slingshot water purification technology to communities where potable water access is limited. The Slingshot system uses a vapor compression distillation system that runs on low levels of electricity so that any dirty water source -- river water, ocean water and even raw sewage –can be turned into pure, clean drinking water. One Slingshot unit can purify enough daily drinking water for roughly 300 people, while consuming less than the amount of power needed to run a standard handheld hair dryer.This year, we will install and operate 100 Slingshot units in schools and health centers in Africa and Latin America.
Longer term, we plan to marry the Slingshot technology and our 5by20 commitment to deliver a full-service community center. The EKOCENTER will house the Slingshot water purification system as well as deliver other basic necessities and products such as electricity, Internet access and vaccination storage, to communities in need. Each EKOCENTER will enable communities to have services that otherwise would not be available – all within one location – and be operated by local female entrepreneurs. We see this initiative as an investment in the future prosperity and progress of the communities in which we operate.
Also, in a move that builds resiliency, over the last decade we have invested more than $100 million in the development of highly efficient, HFC-free cooling technologies, including, most recently, solar-powered coolers in places such as rural India.
Although we have these great stories to share today, our journey is far from complete. The truth is, it will never be complete. The multinational corporation will always have a role to play in driving sustainable economic development.
With unyielding determination, a restless culture of innovation, and continued work with many powerful partners, it is our hope that The Coca-Cola Company can continue to be a strong and enduring force for progressive growth and positive change for generations to come.
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