AR3: How do you see climate change impacting Coca Cola’s business in Africa – whether through consumption patterns and growth, access to fresh water, or impact on supply chain logistics? Does climate figure specifically in Coca Cola’s current Sustainability Report? Is there a division of Coca-Cola Africa that specifically tries to forecast the impact of climate change on the business?
DD: Coca-Cola is well aware that climate change may impact both our direct business and supply chain. Weather patterns certainly have an impact on consumption patterns. Long rainy seasons such as the current El Nino rains being seen in parts of Africa translate to reduced consumption of our beverages, while long dry spells translate to decreased water resource availability, which may strain our relations with the communities with which we work, since water is the main ingredient in most of our products. Climate change could aggravate water scarcity or reduce water quality in certain regions. Climate protection does feature in Coca-Cola’s Sustainability Report and falls under Environment and Sustainability. Coca-Cola Africa does not have a dedicated division to tackle Climate Change matters but rather prefers to collaborate with organizations that are experts in the subject matter such as civil society or government institutions.
AR3: Coca Cola’s World 2020 Environmental Goals target “improving water efficiency by 25%, a 75% recovery rate in developed markets or the equivalent amount of bottles and cans we introduce in the marketplace”, and sustainably sourcing of key agricultural products. What about the developing world, and Africa in particular? What percentage of these global targets are expected to be met through advances in developing markets, and of this, what is Africa’s contribution? How far is the company towards meeting these goals, and what are its biggest challenges with respect to Africa?
DD: The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is a flagship initiative of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) that seeks to provide at least six million Africans with access to clean water by the end of 2020. RAIN also supports a wide range of water and sanitation-related projects in response to Africa’s significant challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on water. Through RAIN, TCCAF plans to return up to 18.5 billion liters of water to nature and communities. This represents about 20% of the global target.
With regards to sourcing key agricultural products, the Company signed a Letter of Intent in 2014 to launch Source Africa, an initiative to build commercially and socially sustainable supply chains in Africa in order to support the growth of our global footprint, in partnership with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and Grow Africa. The initiative will initially focus on sustainable mango and tea production in Kenya; citrus, mango and pineapple production in Nigeria; and mango and sugar in Malawi. Longer-term, the program could expand to other crops and geographies. Source Africa builds on the experience of Coca-Cola’s work in sustainable agriculture, including Project Nurture, an $11.5 million partnership supporting 50,000 small-scale fruit farmers in East Africa to sustainably grow their crops and income. Plans are now underway to extend the initiative to Ivory Coast and other parts of Africa. For these plans to take off, water is vital. Therefore the impact of climate change on water availability is of special concern to us. One of the biggest challenges in meeting our sustainability commitments is lack of an existing infrastructure, which ultimately raises the costs of project implementation, particularly in the transportation of materials. Finding Partners with the technical capacity to implement projects also poses a problem in certain locations. Security is sometimes also not guaranteed in some of the remote areas that are most water- stressed.
AR3: What do you see are some of the most active countries on the continent in terms of advancing the company’s sustainability goals? What do you think drives this innovation? How much leeway are local bottlers given to propose sustainability projects, and what is their relationship with the Africa Foundation?
DD: Our Sustainability Agenda is well embedded in our day-to-day operations, and we have a high rate of bottler alignment with our stringent standards. For example, in our plants our bottlers integrate wastewater treatment systems as part of our commitment to water stewardship. This requires additional investment from our bottlers and almost all our plants in the Coca-Cola system are compliant or in the process of adopting, our standards. Every year, the Company holds Sustainability Awards where bottlers are recognized for their efforts in promoting the Company’s sustainability agenda. Last year, Burundi won one of these awards. It must be noted that bottlers are independent companies that have the liberty to choose their preferred sustainability agenda, independent of Coca-Cola’s own. Therefore many bottlers undertake initiatives that they feel best add value to their business. Some of the most active local bottlers and that collaborate strongly with the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation are in Cape Verde, Rwanda, Somaliland, Madagascar and Mozambique.
AR3: Can you say something about your role within the company, and what enables you to be most effective in it?
DD: My role in the company consists of building Coca-Cola’s corporate image and ensuring that we have an undisputed license to operate. Part of the license to operate involves engaging influencers and opinion leaders to demonstrate to them that our interests are not just commercial but that we are also committed to adding value to the Communities we serve. One of my main sources of motivation is a desire to impact the communities we work in and empower the people with whom I work. My role in the Coca-Cola Company enables me to contribute to human development and, hopefully, leave the world a better place than I found it.
AR3: In May 2015, Perim Associates and the Government of Djibouti put on the “East Africa Environmental Risk & Opportunities Summit” which U.S. Secretary of State Kerry cited as a positive move in drawing attention to issues of environmental risk and its impact on African business. Coca Cola and its local bottling partner participated, and several programs in environment and health were proposed. What do you think are the benefits of such events, and how could they be improved to help assure follow-on actions by governments and the private sector?
DD: Coca-Cola regularly participates in international events both as a stakeholder and as a sponsor. Such events are great learning platforms and also avenues for the Coca-Cola system to showcase its achievements on Sustainability. As we participate at such events, we anticipate that businesses will have a strong showing and inspire governments to greater ambition. Such fora also allow us to interact with other industry leaders and make joint calls to action to governments as well as agreeing on initiatives that we can jointly undertake as an industry.
Such one was the signing of the Food and Beverage Leadership Statement on Climate Change which unites global food companies on climate action, and pledges accelerated industry action to address climate impacts and urges world leaders to forge a robust international agreement at COP21.
AR3: Could you describe the mission of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, how it interfaces with the rest of the company and outside organizations, and its priorities?
DD: The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) exists to fulfill TCCC’s enduring commitment to building sustainable communities. The Foundation’s areas of focus include water stewardship (63%), Health Care interventions (35%), and Youth Empowerment (2%). TCCC and Partners have invested over $100 Million to implement over 170 Programs in 48 Countries across Africa. The Foundation is a key partner in driving the company’s sustainability agenda and does not get involved in the Company’s commercial interests.
AR3: How does one become a Coca-Cola partner, for example in providing clean water solutions? How are market innovations in this area identified and implemented? Does the Foundation invest in applied/industrial research?
DD: For Coca-Cola, collaboration is key to achieve results. We collaborate with partners across the Golden Triangle of business, government and civil society on matters that are of strategic relevance. TCCAF forms strategic partnerships with organizations that desire to find long-lasting solutions to Africa’s challenges through local experience, community involvement, and technical knowledge and leveraged funding. One the salient requirements for partnership is a proven track record for success.
Don Dussey is the Senior Public Affairs & Communication Manager for Coca Cola’s Central, Indian & Atlantic (Oceans) Franchise. Based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, he manages 24 countries in West & Central Africa and Islands, most of which are French-speaking.
In October 2008, Dussey joined The Coca-Cola Company as the Senior Public Affairs and Communications Manager. Prior to this he worked for BAT in Benin, Niger & Togo, as Assistant to the Law Faculty’s Vice Dean at the University of Benin, and was Head of Corporate Communications at Imexka Production based in Lomé. Dussey holds a degree in Environmental Law and Politics from joint universities of Maastricht, Liège, Lomé & Benin, and an MA in Regulatory Law from the University Cheikh Anta Diop. He is also the current Vice President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Côte d’Ivoire.