Coca-Cola, Others Charged With Greenwash

For Immediate Release

India Resource Center
Contact: 

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center  +1 415 336 7584 Jeff Conant, Food and Water Watch + 1 415 293 9905

Coca-Cola, Others Charged With Greenwash

Counter-Conference and Protest in San Francisco to Challenge Corporate Abuse of Water

SAN FRANCISCO - The Coca-Cola company
and other water companies including Pepsico and Nestle Waters were
challenged in San Francisco by a broad coalition of groups, charging the
companies with greenwashing and abusing water resources.

The water companies were in San Francisco for a meeting entitled
"Corporate Water Footprinting: Towards a Sustainable Water
Strategy" on December 2 and 3, 2008 to ostensibly outline water
conservation strategies.

The coalition organized a capacity-filled Water Rights conference on
December 2nd as well as a protest, including street theater, at the
corporate conference venue today.

"A conference geared towards sustainable use of water is indeed
welcome, but having the largest water abusers in charge is not,"
said Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians and Senior
Water Advisor to the United Nations.

"More than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and
climate change is further depleting freshwater resources," said
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "Given
the absence of perspectives from those without access to water, the
corporate conference appears aimed more at polishing the images of some
of the world's biggest water abusers rather than addressing the very real
global water crisis."

"Providing access to water cannot be ensured through privatization
and must not be subject to the whims of the market. Over 3 billion people
live on less than US $2.50 a day and the commodification of water
literally means that a substantial part of the world - particularly the
poor and the marginalized - will be unable to afford water," said
Amit Srivastava of the International Campaign Against Coca-Cola and the
India Resource Center.

Coca-Cola's role in the corporate conference, in particular, was harshly
criticized because of the company's announcement to become "water
neutral".

"Coca-Cola's own concept paper on water neutrality states that the
term is misleading and troublesome because it is impossible to become
water neutral.  Yet the company has decided that the term makes for
good marketing and is pushing it, regardless of the fact that the company
continues to destroy water resources for tens of thousand of people in
India," said Srivastava.

The Coca-Cola company is the target of community-led campaigns across
India for denying access to water, and two Coca-Cola bottling plants have
been shut down as a result.  The Coca-Cola company has responded by
increasing its advertising budget and increasing its "corporate
social responsibility" initiatives, of which water neutrality is a
part.

Also speaking at the conference were Mark Franco from the Winnemem Wintu
Tribe and Mateo Nube from Movement Generation.

Primary organizers of the conference included the Blue Planet Project,
Council of Canadians, Food & Water Watch, India Resource Center,
Indigenous Environmental Network and International Campaign Against
Coca-Cola.

For images from the protest, visit

http://www.indiaresource.org/news/2008/1062.html

For background on Coca-Cola's water neutrality, visit

http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2008/neutrality.html

For more information, visit

www.IndiaResource.org

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