Words by Smiley Team
Since 2012, the Coca Cola Foundation has helped replenished 2.75 billion litres of water – the equivalent of 917 Olympic-sized swimming pools – and improved approximately 3,100ha of agricultural land.
It’s all part of what’s called the ‘Water Sensitive Farming’ initiative. This is a partnership between the Coca‑Cola Foundation and The Norfolk Rivers Trust (NRT), an independent conservation charity that was established in 2011 to restore, protect and enhance the water environments of Norfolk, for people and wildlife. They have also had key support from the WWF-UK.
The aim is to protect some of the most water-stressed areas in the UK. In February 2022, the foundation launched the fourth phase of the Water Sensitive Farming (WSF) initiative.
In this phase, the initiative aims to reverse the decline of freshwater environments in Norfolk, and parts of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. It is focusing on improving soil health and water quality and quantity, along with a myriad of wider benefits including flood risk management, carbon storage, groundwater protection and improved habitat for biodiversity.
So far, the partnership has crucially improved the health of Britain’s largest protected wetland, the Broads National Park while globally, it has protected rare chalk streams, including the river Wensum Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The fourth phase, which has been identified as one of the four key UK projects to deliver the Courtauld 2030 Water ambition, will replenish 500 million litres of water; work with farmers to create a minimum of 20 on-farm wetlands, ponds and silt traps; restore stretches of degraded chalk stream and [lant at least 1500 trees to stabilise banks and connect existing habitat filter water.
“Water is our most important resource and is central to improving food sustainability,” said Jon Woods, general manager of Coca‑Cola Great Britain.
“We are proud The Coca‑Cola Foundation has supported the Norfolk Rivers Trust for the last nine years to help local farmers and communities protect, reduce, recycle and replenish water supplies. As a global leader in water stewardship, we look forward to expanding our work with food and drink businesses and working collectively to deliver sustainable solutions that improve water quality and replenish key areas across the UK.”
Ed Bramham-Jones, operations director at Norfolk Rivers Trust, said: “I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved as part of our Water Sensitive Farming initiative to date. The renewed funding commitment comes at a time when farmers are adapting to a post-Brexit landscape, while facing significant changes to financial support and agricultural practices.
"The new phase of the initiative is really exciting - we hope to reach new farmers, strengthen our existing partnerships with the agricultural sector and supply chain, recruit and train a team of citizen scientists, and ultimately deliver nature-based solutions for our desperately polluted and degraded rivers.”
Established in 1984, The Coca‑Cola Foundation has invested more than $1.2 billion around the world to protect the environment, empower women to thrive and to enhance the overall well-being of people and communities.
SUPPORT: Visit Norfolk River Trust to find out more and get in touch with one of the Water Sensitive Farming advisers.
DONATE: You can donate to the Trust to help them undertake their work.