$ 800,000 grant by the Coca-Cola Foundation for eco Gozo’s water stewardship program

The program will result in the collection and reuse of around 4-5 million litres of rainwater each year.

NEL 4297

The Coca-Cola Company, via its international philanthropic leg The Coca-Cola Foundation, has awarded a grant of $800,000 to a Water Stewardship program under the Eco Gozo project. The program will be implemented by The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) and its local bottling partner, The General Soft Drinks Co Ltd (GSD), in partnership with the Ministry for Gozo and the international NGO Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean (GWP-Med), which will also be leading the administration of the project. Local environmental NGO Nature Trust Malta (NTM) will be implementing the educational component associated with the program.

The scope of this substantial investment in Gozo was revealed in a press conference by the Hon Giovanna Debono, Minister for Gozo and Ms Maria Micallef, General Manager of The General Soft Drinks Co Ltd. Also present were the Hon George Pullicino Minister for Resources and Rural affairs and Mr Brian Mizzi Managing Director of The General Soft Drinks Co Ltd.

Mrs Debono thanked Ms Micallef and GSD for their commitment in securing this grant. "You managed to secure half the amount of grants allocated to-date by The Coca-Cola Foundation to water stewardship programs throughout the world," remarked Mrs Debono, "this is true national spirit and commitment towards a sustainable, better Gozo," she said. The Minister for Gozo stated also that this grant amounted to a remarkable show of confidence in the Eco-Gozo project by a leading multinational company.

Ms Micallef started by giving some insights on The Coca-Cola Foundation, which is Coca-Cola's Company primary international philanthropic arm partnering with organizations around the globe to support initiatives and programs that respond in a meaningful way to community needs and priorities.

Through its global foundation, established in 1984 and funded by The Coca-Cola Company, it supports initiatives focused on: Water Stewardship, Healthy and Active Lifestyles, Community Recycling & Education.

Ms Micallef explained how back in March of 2010 she had attended, together with Mr Stephen Bonnici, Human Resources Manager of GSD and also responsible for coordinating Public Affairs & Communications, a Coca-Cola Water Replenishment workshop during which a number of projects being funded by Coca-Cola were discussed. This seminar provided the platform for GSD to start working on this project. "I was sure that the vision for Eco Gozo was in perfect alignment with Coca-Cola's 2020 Vision for the environment and for helping create sustainable communities; the Coca-Cola's System strong belief in this led us all to work with passion and commitment in securing The Coca-Cola Foundation $800,000 grant for this water stewardship program of great importance for the Island of Gozo and Malta," stated Ms Micallef.

Ms Micallef thanked the Ministry for Gozo and the Eco Gozo Directorate, offering special thanks to Mr Anthony Zammit for the "superb technical support team provided during the bidding stage." She described how difficult it was to attract such a large grant but pointed out that "the Eco Gozo project proved to be a credible source of inspiration to international NGO Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean (GWP-Med) who, in close collaboration with its local partners, made a strong Grant application to The Coca-Cola Foundation". She stressed that this grant would not have been awarded without the vital input and hard work of Prof Michael Scoullos, Chairman and Ms Konstantina Toli, Programme Officer from GWP-Med, who visited the island of Gozo and ensured that all the necessary paperwork for this grant was compliant with grant requirements. She continued by explaining that the Program, administered and technically implemented by GWPMed, will include installation and repair of rainwater harvesting systems and non conventional water systems, educational tools, as well as capacity building workshops. The local environment NGO Nature Trust Malta (NTM) will also be involved in the project through an educational campaign. The Program will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Gozo under the Eco Gozo program.

The capacity of the island of Gozo to harvest rainwater will rise dramatically as a consequence of this project and a number of eco-Gozo projects Minister Debono gave details of other water conservation projects currently being implemented by the Eco-Gozo Directorate which will collectively result in the recovery of vast amounts of rainwater in Gozo. Following the successful valley cleaning programme last year, works on the cleaning of a further 10 dams in Gozitan valleys is expected to start off in the coming days. The eco-Gozo programme is also funding the building of 8 other reservoirs by Gozitan NGOs through a scheme launched last year. The Directorate is also actively seeking to educate the public on the rational use of the island's water resources. In this regard, a number of initiatives will soon be made public.

Minister Debono also said that "a number of sustainable projects are currently being implemented in nearly all spheres of life in Gozo; from the water and environmental perspectives to economic regeneration and our social and cultural Gozitan identity".

The Hon. George Pullicino, Minister for resources and Rural Affairs, noted with satisfaction the importance of such water conservation projects carried for our islands. 'Water represents an inestimable resource for our country and we need to do all that we can in order to safeguard it. This is also part of a holistic environmental plan launched by Government earlier this week. With regards to potable water this plan emphasises that efficiency in the production of such water through reverse osmosis is to be increased; there should be increased control on the water taken from the aquifer without restricting the agricultural sector; that there should be an increase in investment that allows for the use of treated water for industrial purposes. My Ministry has already upheld this vision and is currently working on a system that monitors boreholes through the installation of appropriate metres. In the meantime discussions underway aim to make better use of waste water treated through the Waste Water Treatment Plants on both islands. The utilisation of European Funds is being studied in relation with the structuring of extensions at the respective plants where water polishing plants may be installed. This will permit the desalinisation of treated water and would allow for the daily production of around 24,000m³ of water for agricultural and industrial purposes'.

Details of the Water Stewardship Program are being finalised and will be announced in November during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among all parties.

07. 09. 2011