At this week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, Coca-Cola executive Bea Perez took a seat next to the prime minister of Bangladesh.

The subject? Not soft drinks. Instead, they discussed women entrepreneurs. In other meetings, Coca-Cola’s many representatives at the UN event talked about recycling, reducing plastic waste, and water security.

While the UN General Assembly generates plenty of headlines, the event is much more than speeches by world leaders. It’s also the biggest gathering of its kind for people from a huge array or businesses and organizations.

Coca-Cola sent a contingent to New York to engage with leaders from the public, private and civil society sectors to talk about the company’s goals in women’s empowerment, water stewardship, and its World Without Waste initiative. These are elements of the company’s long-term commitment to social and economic growth in the 200-plus countries and territories where Coca-Cola operates.

New Partnership

For example, Coca-Cola is part of the newly formed Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP), which aims to tackle plastic waste issues. The partnership, which also includes Dow, the PepsiCo Foundation and the Canadian and the UK governments, launched during the “Taking Action on Plastic Pollution” session at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Initiative Summit in New York.

“To see results, we must work together across industry, NGOs and government partners,” said Bea Perez, SVP and Chief Communications, Public Affairs, Sustainability and Marketing Assets Officer for Coca-Cola. “No one person or company can accomplish this feat alone. That’s why partnerships like the GPAP are so important. It will be a collaboration across government, businesses and communities to redesign circular economies, protect our oceans and make a ‘World Without Waste’ a possibility for our future.”

Key Meetings

At an executive roundtable hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce honoring Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Perez shared the Coca-Cola system’s economic and social impact, especially for women in Bangladesh.

Coca-Cola has supported establishment of 40 Woman Business Centers (WBCs) across Bangladesh, empowering over 40,000 women. The WBC facilities, run by women, address common barriers women entrepreneurs face in rural Bangladesh. 

Perez announced additional support to WBCs, with plans to reach an additional 60,000 women by 2020 in support of the company’s 5by20 goal.     

Water Stewardship

At a session of the 2030 Water Resources Group (WRG), of in which Coca-Cola is founding member, Perez and Shamima Ahkter, Public Affairs and Communications Manager at Coca-Cola Bangladesh, talked about the importance of collaboration to improve water security.

Ahkter said managing water resources in Bangladesh is critical, due to seasonal variations and the widening supply and demand gap in the agricultural, industrial, domestic and other sectors. Coca-Cola’s team in Bangladesh has put programs in place to improve agricultural productivity and enact more effective governance methods.

Link: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).