Respecting Human Rights is a priority for SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, especially the implementation of the Right to Water and Sanitation.
On many occasions, the Group has spoken in favor of Resolution 64/292 on the “Fundamental right to water and sanitation” adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in July 2010. As part of its public service remit, the Group helps local authorities and government authorities in both Southern and Northern Hemisphere countries to implement these rights from an operational standpoint. The process relates both to the problems experienced in accessing services for population groups that are not connected to a network and the maintaining of services for vulnerable households who are already connected to public services.
SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT is contributing to the Millennium Development Goals.
SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s presence in emerging and developing countries since 1990 has yielded important results; 12.8 million people have been connected to drinking water services, including 10 million people through domestic connections, and 6.6 million people with sanitation services.
The Water for All Program, which was set up in 1999, helps SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s companies to develop longterm public service access solutions for vulnerable population groups or groups living in informal districts that are not connected to services as part of their contracts. These solutions are adjusted to the local context, and the stakeholders contribute to design them.
In recent years, this program has no longer focused solely on southern-hemisphere countries but now includes sharing of expertise with the Group employees in the northern hemisphere to help them develop water-related social policies in their countries. One such action is the “Fair Water” initiative sponsored by Lyonnaise des Eaux, launched in collaboration with the “Business and Poverty Action Tank,” which offers a range of preventive and remedial solutions to local communities in the fight against “water insecurity” in France. Knowhow from the “Services for All” program will be integrated into the next version of the “WIKTI” methodology to measure and develop the maturity of water and sanitation services. It is undergoing development and testing phase at several sites and will be fully operational in 2014.
Furthermore, the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Initiatives Fund dedicated €4 million to initiatives that promote access to essential services in developing countries and social inclusion in France in 2013. It specifically supported 20 projects promoting access to water and sanitation in 14 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Lyonnaise des Eaux is rolling out practical solutions to make water accessible to everyone. Innovative pricing structures, like progressive and socially inclusive pricing, help reconcile the aims of universal access to water and the protection of water resources. In fact, three pricing levels were introduced in Orléans in 2013, namely a lower price for the first “vital” 40 cubic meters in the year, a higher price for the following 41 to 120 m 3 , and an even higher price beyond that threshold. In addition, Lyonnaise des Eaux and the District have provided a budget for “Chèques Eau” (water vouchers) in order to help service users who are experiencing difficulties dealing with arrears.
Aguas Andinas (Chile), an Agbar subsidiary, serves around 6 million residents in the Santiago urban district. The “Aguas Andinas en mi barrio” program provides solutions to indebted customers, one-third of whom fall into the vulnerable socio-economic category. The solutions are adjusted to each district’s issues and include assessing and repairing customers’ sanitary facilities, setting up plumbing workshops, arranging special payment terms, putting together subsidy applications, etc. The program has been planned in collaboration with the representatives of residents’ associations.
The SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Initiatives Fund promotes the co-development of solutions alongside its partners in the fields of water access, sanitation, and waste management in developing countries, as well as social integration through employment in France.
Those are ambitious and especially demanding goals as regards the gravity of the challenges and the urgency of the issues. Therefore, the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Initiatives Fund strongly emphasizes the transfer of know-how and, in doing so, strives to empower all stakeholders involved.
Each project benefits accordingly from the varied perspectives of evaluators and from the support of an adviser, all of whom are working to ensure lasting results.
The Fund increasingly relies on the expertise of Aquassistance volunteers to validate and/or strengthen some of the projects that are submitted. Specifically, the volunteers carry out field assignments to perform diagnostics, fortify a business plan, or participate with local teams in the launch of a project. It is notably the case with the Eau Vive association in Senegal, where Aquassistance is donating the expertise of SITA employees to implement a system for collecting and processing waste from a city of 25,000 inhabitants.