WWF-CEE and The Coca-Cola Foundation announced that they continue to work together for a large-scale river and wetland restoration in the Danube basin

For the first time, this year’s World Wetlands Day (2 February) is taking place with the official support of the United Nations, underlining the critical state and importance of the world’s wetlands. On this occasion, WWF-CEE and The Coca-Cola Company emphasise the importance of healthy rivers and wetlands and commit to continuing their successful Living Danube Partnership with the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation to promote river and wetland restoration and climate resilience across the Danube basin.


Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands currently cover roughly 6% of the Earth’s land surface, with 87% lost in the past 300 years. Wetlands are now disappearing three times faster than forests and putting plants, species and animals dependent on wetlands at risk of extinction. (Source: Global Wetlands Outlook)

In the Danube basin, more than 80% of floodplains, wetlands have been lost over the past 150 years, and with them the ecosystem goods and services they provide. The effects have been wide‑ranging and include plummeting fish and wildlife populations, decreases in water quality and damage to wetlands, which are no longer able to provide much needed biodiversity hotspots or to act as buffers to floodwaters – services that are becoming all the more valuable in the face of climate change.


5,462 hectares of Danube wetlands restored by unique cross-sectoral partnership

In 2021, WWF-CEE, The Coca-Cola Foundation as well as the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) announced the successful completion of the first phase of their unique, cross-sectoral partnership to promote the conservation and restoration of wetlands in the Danube basin. Supported by a $4.4 million (around 1.39 million forints) grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the eight-year Living Danube Partnership restored vital wetlands, rivers and floodplains along the River Danube and its tributaries, increasing the river capacity by the equivalent of over WWF's Living Danube Partnership  has restored over 5,462 hectares of wetlands – that is an area of more than 7,422 football pitches. This has increased the capacity of the Danube by 13 million m3, or the equivalent of more than 4,800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Read the detailed result of the Living Danube Partnership program HERE.

Following the successful completion of the first phase of the Living Danube Partnership (between 2014 and 2021), the partners have set even more ambitious new targets. Supported by a grant of $500,000 (around 158 million forints) for one year from The Coca-Cola Foundation, activities, which will take place across 6 countries of the Danube basin, including Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine, will contribute to the climate resilience of wetlands.

Over the last 8 years, the Living Danube Partnership has made a difference for nature and people and specifically for freshwater in the Central-Eastern European region. We are looking forward to build on these achievements and to exploit further the nature-based and sustainable solutions to connect the water replenishment work with our wider sustainability agenda in order to achieve net zero emissions, to become nature positive and to make our communities and supply chains more climate change resilient.

Jan Burger Climate & Water Sustainability Director Europe, The Coca-Cola Company

Preliminary targets for 2030 include 50,000 or more hectares of rivers and wetlands in the process of restoration, reaching as many as 100 million people.