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"Water - blue gold challenges": at the Paris Dauphine conference, Antoine Frérot shares his convictions as to how to better preserve our water resources

"Decarbonizing economic growth is not enough, we also have to deshydrate it": invited by the University of Paris Dauphine to conclude the conference on "Water - blue gold challenges" that took place today, Antoine Frérot, Veolia Chairman and CEO, presented his vision of the major water-related challenges to come.

A scarce resource that must be saved and reused

Water is now scarce and precious, but it does constantly renew itself. Consumption increases in line with the population and better living standards. Water demand has doubled in 40 years, and by 2050 will have increased by a further 50%. Simultaneously climate change is reshaping the planet’s hydraulic map.

For Veolia, the main solution in protecting water resources lies in making savings: reducing losses in supply networks and making significant efforts in agriculture - the world's largest water consumer. Additionally, by recycling wastewater and desalinating seawater, water can become a renewable, alternative resource.


"Recycling water is tantamount to increasing productivity. In industry, it takes 400,000 litres of water to make a car, 11,000 for a pair of jeans, and 1,300 for a mobile phone. Decarbonizing economic growth is not enough, we also have to deshydrate it," explained Antoine Frérot.


Protecting resources against pollution

In developing countries, 80-90% of wastewater is discharged without being treated. Increasing urbanization generates pollution levels that harm public health, environment and economy. And this pollution has a retroactive effect on water resource availability.

"China has recently set more stringent industrial water treatment standards than are seen in the West. Although in Europe drinking water production plants neutralize pesticides and nitrates, we have to act upstream to get out of the spiral of more and more treatments on increasingly polluted water", said Antoine Frérot.

Adapting the price of water to reflect its scarcity, but without reducing acces

Efficient water-demand management requires a price signal to make consumers realize the true value of water and reduce wastage. It also means finding solutions that will ensure universal access to good quality drinking water, for example through social tariffs or direct aid.


"Against the backdrop of increasing scarcity, we have to put a price on nature and a cost on pollution. It doesn’t in any way mean reducing solidarity - by introducing a social tariff for the poorest, everyone would be able to access this vital resource," added Veolia’s CEO.


Université Paris Dauphine’s conference on “Water - blue gold challenges”
Veolia’s mission “Resourcing the world”
Veolia’s activities