Last World Wetlands Day, Danone celebrated the 20th anniversary of its partnership with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Find out how we cooperate to save 100,000 species and the livelihoods of 600 million people.

Villavicencio View // longhorndavid (Author) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via Flickr

Wetlands: vital for nature and people

Wetlands are precious resources, explains Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: “Wetlands provide essential services for nature and people. They provide water for consumption, protect us from floods, store carbon and other functions critical to achieve sustainable development.” Defined by the Convention as “any land area that is saturated or flooded with water, either seasonally or permanently” (lake, estuary, coral reef, aquifer), wetlands have disappeared by 64% since 1990. This puts the livelihoods of 600 million people and the habitats of 100,000 known species at risk. The Ramsar Convention’s work to certify and protect wetlands sites is hence crucial. To date, The Ramsar Convention has designated 2,293 sites as Wetlands of International Importance also known as Ramsar Sites.

Protecting wetlands is critical to Danone Waters’ mission, “at Danone, we want to provide healthy hydration solutions, and to achieve this, we need healthy water resources, which involves the protection of wetlands”, said Mariano Perotti, Danone General Manager for Waters in Argentina. Indeed, wetlands represent one of the main drivers for water purity as they serve as a natural filter, eliminating harmful waste from water. At least 100 Danone’s sites are directly or indirectly linked to a wetland.

Aware of the key role played by the Convention, in 1998 Danone became the first private partner of the Convention on Wetlands. Ten years later Danone’s Evian site was the first natural mineral water recharge area to be designated a Ramsar site.

Villavicencio as the first ever privately owned site certified by the Convention

2017 marked a strengthening of the collaboration between Danone and the Ramsar Convention, with the certification of the Wetlands of Villavicencio Nature Reserve as a Ramsar site of International Importance in December. “This certification is a huge success since it required numerous internal and external approvals involving many organizations and public bodies, which took several years. It is the first privately-owned land certified as a Ramsar site”explained Mariano Perotti. The site of Villavicencio, in Argentina, belongs to Danone and provides the resources for its mineral water brand. “At Villavicencio, we aim to leave the environment in which we operate better than how we found it. Thanks to this achievement, along with all the actions that have been implemented for years, the leading mineral water brand in Argentina is recognized for its commitment to nature”.

This designation is in keeping with the brand purpose of Villavicencio which is used to engaging consumers around the protection of nature. Previous marketing campaigns were focused on ecosystem protection and regeneration, and for each bottle of Villavicencio bought, the brand committed to save 1 m² of forest. Thanks to the campaign “leave your footprint”, 48 million square meters of the Chaco Native Forest have been saved from deforestation so far and it led to the creation of a 130,000 Ha national park, “El Impenetrable”, that was officially inaugurated in August last year.

All this work contributed to the B Corp certification of Aguas Danone Argentina in 2017, “the B Corp certification is living testimony of many years of a management focused on the strategic coherence between sustainability and business. Now, being recognized as a Ramsar site strengthens this recognition”, as Mariano Perotti explained.

A renewed and strengthened partnership

In 2017, the Ramsar Convention and Danone renewed their partnership for another three years, around three main actions: the continuous conservation of wetlands via the certification of Danone’s sites, the development of tools and methodologies to measure the benefits of the actions implemented in the wetlands, and the promotion of these zones and their role in the fight against climate change.

We now need the support of other friends and partners to protect these lands that are critically important for the future of our planet.

 

Did you know? 

An international treaty to protect wetlands:

The Convention on Wetlands was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 to provide the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Since 1971, 169 countries have signed up as Contracting Parties to the Convention. On 27 January 1998, Danone signed a partnership agreement with the Convention — the first of its kind. It was the first time the private sector and an intergovernmental environmental convention decided to join forces in a partnership. The aim, then and now, is to raise awareness on the importance of water resources protection.

How Danone protects wetlands as a private company:

Please visit: This link to learn how the Danone Ecosystem Fund together with Danone, farmers and villages in the area of Evian collaborate to protect evian’s natural mineral water watershed and reinforce sustainable farming practices.

Please visit: This link to discover one of the main achievements of the collaboration: SPRING, a tool that measures and encourages best practices in ground water management, was developed with the support of Ramsar Convention and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).