Christophe Bahuet: Opening Speech at China’s Industrial Park Water Stewardship Workshop

May 7, 2014


Mr. Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Country Director in China

May 7 – 8, Shanghai


Dear Mr. Yao Shenhong, DG of CICETE,

Dear Mr. David Brooks, VP of Coca-Cola China,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today and to speak on behalf of UNDP for the opening of this workshop.

UNDP worldwide and in China has engaged very actively for the efficient sustainable use of natural resources, in particular water, which is the main theme of this workshop. UNDP's global mission is to promote sustainable development working through its offices in over 160 countries. UNDP is also known for its Human Development Report, a flagship publication which every year highlight a key development issue.   

A few years ago, UNDP selected water as the theme of a UNDP global Human Development Report (HDR). Entitled “Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the Global Water Crisis”, the Report drew attention to the looming global water crisis and the significant threat it poses to human development. The report made the point, that in an increasing number of countries and regions, people lacked access to water due to ineffective natural resource management.

In China, UNDP has engaged in water issues through a very important and fruitful partnership with CICETE and Coca-Cola. And it is in the context of this partnership that today’s event is being organized.

“Water stewardship”, is defined by Alliance for Water Stewardship as “the use of water that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process, which involves site- and catchment-based actions”. With the world population projected at 9 billion in 2030, matching water supply and demand for the population and industrial production is a daunting unprecedented challenge.

Despite limited improvements in energy efficiency and resource productivity in recent years, overall resource consumption and waste are significantly increasing. Current patterns of both consumption and production are unsustainable and this unsustainability is widely recognized. The question is whether and how mankind will be able to change the patterns significantly and quickly enough to avoid disaster.

Governments, consumers and shareholders are increasingly demanding that companies should use natural resources in ways that should be environmentally and socially sustainable. In 2013, the World Economic Forum called for a scaling up in the efforts to establishing sustainable circular economies. I would like here to give two concrete examples of how a circular economy with recycling treated or reclaimed water is possible.

The first example relates to a major initiative that UNDP and The Coca-Cola Company launched in 2006 to improve access to safe drinking water. This initiative called “Every Drop Matters” includes 25 countries in Europe and the former Soviet Union. The vision is to allow communities to gain improved access to safe drinking water by promoting the use of environmentally sound industrial technologies and responsible water management for industrial and domestic purposes.

The second example is about pilot project that UNDP China has just completed on rehabilitating Lotus Lake Urban Pocket Wetland in Zhengzhou. The project was implemented via a partnership between UNDP, CICETE and The Coca-Cola Greater China and Zhengzhou Swire Coca-Cola Bottling Plant. Designed to be replenished with underground water, the Lotus Lake was faced with a shortage of water resources and deterioration of water environment. As a result of the project, treated water from Zhengzhou Swire Coca-Cola Bottling Plant is now replenished with as much as 600 m3 of water on a daily basis, the recycling of 200,000 m3 of discharge water from the bottling plant, leading to a revived urban pocket wetland, and much improved living conditions for the local population.

Building on this achievement, over 40 Coca-Cola bottling plants across China should be able to adopt this model. This could lead to recycling of at least 8 million m3 per year of reclaimed water. Let us imagine the positive impact there would be if all beverage plants across China would do the same! And what it would be if all the industrial parks in China would fully recycle their treated water.

UNDP hopes that by bringing together governmental agencies, research organizations, and corporations, this workshop will allow an exchange of concrete practices in conserving and protecting water resources while innovatively meeting industrial demand for water. We further hope that as a result of this workshop, beverage plants and industrial parks in China will take concrete initiatives on scaling up recycling retreated/reclaimed industrial water, and we look forward to hearing about those initiatives.

I wish the workshop to be most successful and thank you for your attention.