Veolia set up its Critical Friends committee in 2013. This is a forum for collective reflection to provide Veolia’s top management with outsider viewpoints on strategically important issues that impact the Group’s social and environmental responsibility. The aim is to improve and support the Group’s process of continuous improvement.
Committee members are drawn from non-profit bodies, institutions and academia, as well as representatives of Veolia stakeholders (clients, suppliers and younger generations).
The committee’s missions are to:
- critically examine strategies, problems and actions put to it by Veolia management or raised by committee members as these relate to managing sustainability or changes to our business lines
- pass on messages about what stakeholders expect from the Group, including stakeholders who are distant from any of Veolia’s direct activities
- suggest paths for future progress and make judgements on strategies already deployed, or that should be.
The Critical Friends meet once or twice a year. During their meetings, they broaden their knowledge of Veolia business lines via site visits, and spend time discussing a pre-agreed topic with the Chairman and CEO and other members of the Executive Committee. For example, they have discussed issues surrounding Veolia’s CSR challenges and opening up the company to its stakeholders, climate responsibility and its contribution to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In 2018, the themes examined by the committee were air quality, global and social changes likely to impact the Group’s activities and the consequent strategic challenges, and how to define Veolia’s purpose.
Veolia’s Critical Friends committee is headed by Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of Investisseurs et Partenaires.
In 2015, two similar Critical Friends committees were set up in Germany and China to deepen the debate in these two countries on subjects relating to Veolia’s activities.