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Antoine Frérot spoke at the Cerisy symposium on "Resilient Cities and Territories"

Veolia Chairman and CEO Antoine Frérot spoke on Sunday 24 September at the Cerisy symposium on "Resilient Cities and Territories", co-organized by the Veolia Institute from September 19 to 26.

The territories now combine two types of risks: unpredictable disasters (natural or technological disasters, epidemics, terrorist or cyber attacks) and chronic stress (climate change, pollution, scarcity of resources). The territories have to increase their resilience to all these risks in order to guarantee the safety of the inhabitants and protect their economic, social, environmental, and cultural assets. 

"A resilient city must always be in a state of alertness in order to prevent risks. Helping cities resist extreme events and continue their development is one of Veolia's missions," said Antoine Frérot.


Protecting urban assets

In 2015, Veolia and Swiss Re - the 2nd largest global reinsurer - created a partnership under the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Their joint offer aims to help cities prevent or deal with natural and technological disasters. It includes a risk assessment, the development of a long-term resilience plan, the preparation of contingency and recovery plans, monitoring vulnerabilities and improving prevention and relief. This resilience approach allows cities to anticipate disasters and reduce their impact on economic activity. In New Orleans where this offer has been implemented, for 4 months 30 experts from Veolia and Swiss Re analysed the vulnerabilities of 200 installations and recommended measures to better resist extreme events.

Imagining unexpected responses to a major crisis

In 2011 in Fukushima, Areva and Veolia’s teams designed and built a unit for TEPCO to decontaminate the cooling water of the damaged nuclear reactors, which made it possible to divide the level of radioactivity by a factor of 10,000. For 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, Veolia urgently mobilized 70 employees from France, Germany, Sweden, the United States, and Japan. Thanks to their work, the unit was commissioned in 3 months (instead of 3 years in a normal context), thereby preventing a second major pollution event in the Pacific Ocean.


"Albert Einstein said that in times of crisis, imagination is more important than knowledge. The leaders of cities and territories have to think outside the box. Because tackling a major crisis means finding unexpected answers," added Antoine Frérot.

Veolia’s emergency humanitarian aid force

Through its Foundation, 20 years ago the Group created Veoliaforce, an emergency humanitarian aid force based on an internal network of 500 volunteers. It has provided vital services to many populations in emergency situations (Ebola in Guinea, war in Syria, migration in the Balkans, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, earthquake in Ecuador, cholera in the region of the great African lakes, etc.).

More : 

Cerisy seminar (in french only)
Veolia Institute and Foundation Veolia
Opening of the Cerisy symposium on “Resilient Cities and Territories”, co-organized by the Veolia Institute
Resilience in cities: joining forces to turning risk into a growth opportunity
“Resilience”, in Let’s talk about climate! By Veolia