In the wake of the launch of the WBCSD "CEO Guide to Human Rights" in London on 19 June, with the WBCSD and the Entreprises pour les Droits de l’Homme (EDH) Veolia organized a morning of discussions on the theme of "Human Rights & Sustainable Development Goals: leader involvement, corporate responsibility and opportunities". Christophe Itier, High Commissioner for Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation, and Antoine Frérot, Veolia Chairman and CEO, opened the meeting. It was the opportunity for Antoine Frérot to present the Group's vision of human rights and call on leaders to mobilize around these issues in their own company.
In the current context of business evolving towards more ethical economic governance, it has a role to play in terms of human rights in the territories in which it operates. Veolia is convinced that it is an opportunity that should be fully integrated into its overall strategy. Taking environmental and social issues into consideration in order to accelerate the transition to a more virtuous economy can be a competitive advantage, at a time when many people are questioning their action and contribution to society as a whole.
Respect for human rights creates the trust that drives business cohesion. With the involvement of its stakeholders Veolia has recently launched a global reflection on its internal organization, its impact on society, and on the responses the Group can provide to the challenges facing the world. Following this work, Veolia published its purpose:
Through its water, waste and energy activities, Veolia provides concrete solutions to promote access to essential services for all, and to reduce its own environmental footprint and that of its customers.
"In our day-to-day activities, on our level we participate in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda: when in Niger or India we bring drinking water to people who do not have it, we transform their lives and improve public health; when we optimize heating networks in Prague or Warsaw, we limit greenhouse gas emissions and reduce heating bills, tangible progress for people on low incomes; when in Sao Paulo or Shanghai we recycle household waste and the raw materials they contain, we avoid additional use of our limited natural resources, as well as pollution that is toxic for the environment and for people... When we act to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we advance human rights and when we promote human rights, we contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals ", explained the CEO.
During the discussion on "Human Rights & Sustainable Development Goals", Veolia's Director of Sustainable Development, Pierre Victoria, added: "The most important thing is the very great managerial coherence in the company, because it is that which enables us to exercise our human rights responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, wherever we operate."
For Christophe Itier, there is a social and territorial emergency in many countries: "We have the duty to accelerate and change scale in terms of social and environmental impact by expanding corporate responsibility. This requires mobilizing more, developing an impact economy, creating more visible and credible labels, multiplying "purposes" and spreading these messages to future generations. "
The WBCSD "Guide to Human Rights for CEOs"
In this Guide, 35 business leaders from around the world challenge their colleagues to respect human rights in relation to four themes: regulation, public interest, business relations and investor expectations. It means identifying the most important human rights for the company, driving forward at the highest level, engaging with stakeholders and collaborating beyond the sector with all the stakeholders in the territory. The 35 signatory companies together have 2.8 million employees in 17 business sectors mobilizing vast global supply chains.
Filippo Veglio, WBCSD's Managing Director People, points out that "we need to simplify the language of human rights and go beyond the experts. And this guide will help businesses respond to this emergency. "