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What concrete steps is Veolia taking to combat deforestation and promote biodiversity?

First of all, biodiversity conservation is one of Veolia's nine sustainability commitments. Veolia is committed to carrying out a diagnosis and deploying an action plan at all of its sites with significant biodiversity issues by 2020. As of the end of 2018, 60% of sites identified had been assessed and action plans put in place.

In 2015, Veolia committed to supporting the French national biodiversity strategy launched by the Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition. This aims to deepen the involvement of all local actors in biodiversity conservation. Veolia put together a file setting out the action plans it proposed for the period 2015-2018, covering its entire portfolio of activities in France and internationally. This commitment earned it formal recognition from the ministry. There are three components to the commitment:

  • component 1: take better account of local biodiversity issues and develop innovative solutions inspired by nature;
  • component 2: implement ecological site layout and management actions at sites identified as having significant biodiversity issues (management of impacts relating to extracting resources from the natural environment and emitting discharges and emissions, ecological management guide, calculator to determine the environmental footprint of open space management, open space charter, etc.);
  • component 3: educate and involve the greatest number, internally and externally, and promote actions set up jointly with local stakeholders.

In July 2018, Veolia Environnement joined 64 other major businesses in an initiative called Act4Nature launched by French nonprofit EPE (Entreprises Pour l’Environnement) and supported by other private, public and NGO partners. In 2019, Veolia will renew its biodiversity action plan as part of its ongoing commitment to the national biodiversity strategy and to Act4Nature.

Veolia has established a dense network of partnerships so it can collaborate with experts that include the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), France’s Museum of Natural History (MNHN), the Foundation for Biodiversity Research (FRB), Orée and many others.

In terms of the specific issue of deforestation, it is important to first stress that biomass (wood waste and agricultural products) account for 12% of our energy business’s energy mix. As part of our environmental objectives plan, we have set the target of upgrading supplies to our energy-producing installations to ensure they are sourced from certified sustainably managed forests. In 2018, 90% of wood fuel came from traceable supply chains and 69% was certified (FSC, PEFC or similar).
As part of some of our service contracts with municipalities, we partner with nonprofits to offset our GHG emissions through reforestation. One example is the partnership between Veolia Water Ile-De-France and Up2Green, which offset 31,140 metric tons of CO2e in 2018 by planting 860,900 trees, including 820,000 in mangroves and 40,900 in other programs (in Mexico, Colombia, Benin and Senegal.)