Interview of Sebastien Chauvin in the Sustainabilist

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Interview of Sebastien Chauvin in the Sustainabilist (7 MB)

At Veolia Middle East, we are not simply contributing to the more efficient use of resources in MENA but rather discovering new approaches towards creating a truly sustainable and self-sufficient ecosystem.

As the topic of sustainability will undoubtedly come up during this year’s Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX), one of the most prominent challenges that will be discussed is the issue of water security. The combination of the region’s hot and dry climate, along with increasing demand from local communities, agriculture, and industries, have taxed an already strained water supply.

According to the latest data from the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct tools, 12 of the 17 most water-stressed countries are based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The good news is, there are opportunities to tackle the water scarcity issue and with the right focus and investment, MENA countries will see the development of a circular economy around water with more resilient local agriculture, as well as dynamic and efficient industries.

Untapped potential, for example, lies with the reuse of treated water, which remains largely underutilised in MENA — a total of 82% is not reused according to the WRI. This water would provide a viable source of clean water, the key to establishing food security programs in the region.

By combining Veolia’s expertise with more efficient reuse of water, along with organic fertilisation, we enable the creation of a circular model for food security in the Middle East.

Veolia has extensive knowledge and a portfolio of references in desalination, wastewater treatment, and reuse of all types. `Veolia Middle East supplies potable water for almost 1 million people, as well as sewerage operations to nearly 2 million people.

In the past year, we have also seen an uptick in the industrial process water and, wastewater treatment to support the growth of the Oil & Gas segment, where water is a critical and invaluable resource in the upstream and downstream aspects of the industry’s production. Veolia today serves companies such as BP in Oman, KIPIC in Kuwait, and SABIC, SADAF, and Kemya in Saudi Arabia.

One hot topic that I expect will be talked about at WETEX, is around the energy efficiency and biogas recovery from sludge, an area that Veolia is quite invested in. Just last month, we began new projects with Dubai Municipality and Ajman Sewerage, to develop Sludge- to-Energy plants. It is such projects that are aimed at producing renewable energy and reducing the overall carbon footprint, which Veolia is committed to supporting and exemplifies our company’s ethos of Resourcing the World.

Another key area of focus for us is the support of local economies, through the creation of local jobs and the nurturing of future talent. With professional development being a cornerstone of our global business, we develop training programs and encourage innovation and education thanks to local partnerships.

Beyond discussing water security, climate change, and regional challenges, I think what needs to be touched upon at WETEX this year, is the need for the Gulf states to take a proactive approach in investing in water infrastructure and digitisation. We also need to open a conversation on the value of public-private partnerships, and contractual schemes in driving the development of sustainable technologies, and accelerating infrastructure development.