Current and future climate change poses numerous challenges for the territories
Meeting food needs for growing populations; satisfying increasing energy demands while drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions; adapting to the increasing numbers of extreme situations; organizing water use more effectively because by 2050 one in two people in the world will be suffering water stress; halting the accelerating loss of biodiversity that accompanies rising temperatures; ensuring the continuity and the quality of essential services...
For Antoine Frérot, CEO of Veolia, meeting these challenges and increasing the resilience of territories facing climate change will be achieved by developing a circular economy.
Developing the circular economy
From a development model based on ever growing linear consumption ("take-make-waste") and ever growing use of resources – in particular fossil fuels which release massive amounts of greenhouse gases - the territories must switch to more prudent, more effective use of resources based on renewable and more circular energies. Converting the waste of some into resources for others in local circuits is now the best lever for territories to protect their resources and reduce their CO2 emissions
"The fight against greenhouse gas emissions requires the implementation of another more sober and efficient model for the use of natural resources, based on the principles of circular economy," says Antoine Frérot.
Encouraging collaboration within the territories
The circular economy is also a collaborative economy. Veolia therefore optimizes flow management at a local level. For example in its wastewater treatment plants it produces not only clean water for industrial, municipal and agricultural needs, but also renewable energy (which generate electricity for heating), and materials (fertilizer for farmers and even bioplastics!). Consequently, in Durban (South Africa) waste water generated by its residents, once purified, is used to supply water to local industries.
"Although climate change is likely to increase tensions between urban and rural areas, above all it offers an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between them," said Antoine Frérot.
Deploying a low-carbon economy
Fighting climate change is a challenge for technological innovation which relies on solutions that tackle recycling, recovery, renewable energy production, mitigation and replacement of polluting emissions. To deploy a low carbon model on a large scale, technology alone is not sufficient, we also have to devise economic, financial, social, societal and political solutions.
Rural areas help cities adopt a low carbon economy and in return cities can help the countryside
In Fort St. James and Merritt in Canada, the authorities entrusted us with the construction and operation of two of the largest biomass plants in North America. The 600,000 metric tons of biomass waste will come from forest industry waste. It will provide electricity for 200,000 people and every year will prevent the equivalent CO2 emissions from 90,000 cars! In Queensland (Australia), recycled waste water irrigates the vineyards, cereal and vegetable crops and so helps rural areas to overcome water shortages. For many years cities have taken water from the countryside; now thanks to technological advances, the countryside will be able to receive water from cities.
Veolia and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030
Pierre Victoria, Director of Sustainable Development for Veolia, spoke at the Convergence Forum during the conference "Partnerships and SDGs: what levers and what impact for multi-stakeholder alliances?" He mentioned that Veolia is a stakeholder in the Millennium Development Goals tackling poverty. The Group offers operating solutions that are environmentally more prudent and more efficient economically, helping to expand access to resources for all.