The United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) includes public services such as drinking water and sanitation, street cleaning and waste disposal, energy distribution and public transportation in its definition of basic services essential for people to achieve an adequate standard of living.
Facilitating access to the services
Veolia believes that it should provide access to services to as many people as possible in the areas where it is responsible. This is true not only in developing countries, but also in industrialized ones, where more and more people live in fragile conditions.
The company shoulders significant roles and responsibilities, not just in terms of facilities and the number of people it serves, but in economic influence as well. This can be a challenge in developed countries when it comes to helping the most disadvantaged members of the community.
In Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, millions of people have gained access to water. and/or wastewater services with the help of Veolia Environnement.
Creating innovative solutions
Innovation brings new economic solutions which must be made available to all categories of populations.
Veolia Environnement creates social innovations to provide services to those with fewer resources at their disposal, such as mobile sales bureaus, pre-paid water contracts or other special payment facilities.
By leveraging its research and innovation capabilities, the company has worked with client communities, international organizations and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement solutions to provide access to public services for every family and every individual.
Veolia's Access expertise
In the area of water and urban wastewater treatment, the expertise developed by Veolia's ACCESS Program, based on 10 years of experience in emerging markets, has contributed to projects for providing:
- connections for low-income households,
- safe and reliable community services,
- implementation of innovative pricing policies,
- information campaigns on good consumption practices.
The company partners with internationally-renowned independent laboratories such as the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL, Laboratory of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led by Esther Duflo) to assess the impacts on human development of new services.
Reflecting local interests
The company weaves its approach into the fabric of local life by seeking to support small businesses linked to some of its operations within an acceptable social framework. Veolia believes that major developing cities can step up growth in facilities while respecting the balance between new urban services and "traditional" activities.
Veolia works with local authorities to provide price adjustments to improve access to water, environmental services, energy and transportation for people suffering hardship. Measures may include guaranteeing a set price over time or tailoring charges to people's ability to pay.
Veolia Environnement is, therefore, actively involved in helping local authorities devise policies that promote sustainable development and reduce social inequality.
Teaming up with financial backers
Since 2008, the company has campaigned to strengthen partnerships with financial backers. Veolia Environnement has a reputation as a pioneering partner able to offer valuable expertise together with a range of bodies jointly financing programs linked to its core business activities. In some emerging countries, this partnership may even lead financial backers to acquire a stake in the company's business operations.
The first output-based aid project
Veolia has pioneered testing with the World Bank and the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) of the first output-based aid project, applied to water and wastewater services access in urban areas. This new mechanism, in which funding for the service is contingent upon independently verified achievement of goals, is an alternative to traditional public-development support.
Veolia Water has teamed up with Fonds Solidarité Eau
In France, Veolia Water has teamed up with Fonds Solidarité Eau, which provides those most in need with targeted financial aid to help pay their water bills. Veolia Water has pledged to write off the debts of a number of customers experiencing payment difficulties.