Interview with Hélène Valade


What were the main results of the new Roadmap in 2013?

The new Roadmap sets 2016 targets for three priorities identified as such with our stakeholders and that are fully integrated into SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s overall strategy. The first priority involves contributing to our customers’ environmental performance, regardless of whether they are local authorities or industrial companies. The second priority relates to being a responsible employer. The third priority aims at promoting access to water for at-risk people. The 2013 results are encouraging and make us reasonably certain that we will achieve the targets that we have set ourselves for 2016, even though there are obviously still efforts to be made on a few issues. Notably, networks yields improved enough to save an amount equivalent to the water consumed by a city of 250,000 inhabitants thanks to water resources protection measures. Again in 2013, 800 million cubic meters of treated wastewater were re-used in the agricultural or industrial sectors. Where the “waste” business activities are concerned, the results are fully in line with our priority, namely material and energy recovery. Our aim is to achieve a ratio of two tons of recovered waste for every ton of waste allocated to landfills. We reached a ratio of 1.42 in 2013. The results were also encouraging in other areas, including our responsibility as an employer. Employee training is progressing, as is change management support provided to employees. Another indicator that we monitor very closely at SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT is the percentage of women in management. That percentage was 27.8% in 2013 compared with 27% in 2012, and we are aiming for 30% by 2016. In 2013, we trained 45 water professionals in developing countries in regards to water access for the most underprivileged population groups. Our aim is to reach 100 professionals in 2016. Moreover, we dedicated €4 million to projects that promote access to water in developing countries via the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Initiatives Fund.


In view of these results, what are your goals for 2014?

There are several areas for improvement. First, some of the indicators that we use do not fully reflect the efforts made, so we will change them. I am especially thinking of biodiversity indicators, which do not include environmental offset activities. As a result, experiments that we are conducting in this area, both in the United States and in France, are neither visible nor understandable. The second area for improvement, which is important even if highly technical, is the way in which we consolidate results. I am thinking of our customer satisfaction rates, especially in the “waste” segment. Satisfaction measurement is one of the new features that we introduced in 2013. Obviously, there are customer satisfaction surveys in all the countries where we operate; however, the methods used are extremely different and do not properly reflect the overall level of satisfaction. Most importantly, we want this “Sustainable Development” Roadmap to act as a tool for guiding our progress. It is a stimulus for promoting a certain number of issues, a starting point for further progress and for drawing up ambitious action plans for both the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT subsidiaries and the functional management teams. In 2014, we want to become even more heavily involved in the fight against climate change: vulnerability analyses, energy efficiency policies, industrial ecology, circular economy loops in the context of more resilient cities. The theme of universal access to services will also be an important focus of our work in 2014, on the same level as our contribution to local regional development, notably in terms of employment. In 2013, we tested a number of actions, including the use of integration schemes for our biodiversity restoration projects. We will need to roll out these experiments on a wider scale. The initiative to measure our CSR footprint on the regions to drive future changes will continue. These are a few examples of the progress that we can achieve.


How does sustainable development help you to stand out in the water and waste markets?

In a certain number of tenders – primarily involving local authorities – sustainable development accounts for 20% to 30% of the final rating. This was absolutely not the case a few years ago. The same applies to the industrial market, where our customers’ Sustainable Development Policies are extremely ambitious, in terms of water consumption, processes, and waste management. There are two areas where we can stand out. The first involves strengthening the link between sustainable development and innovation. How can sustainable development drive innovation in our entities? We have realized that we are more creative when we use this type of reasoning. I am thinking, for instance, about recovering heat from wastewater in sanitation networks but also about all the services that we can imagine based on smart technologies and sustainable urban planning. The second area where we can stand out – at least we hope – is the dialog that we have started with our stakeholders, and the co-construction of solutions with our end-customers. In some ways, this is SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s trademark, at the Group and subsidiaries level as well as at the scale of contracts and new services we would like to offer. We think that co-constructing solutions with the final user is very important, as it guarantees the soundness of the services that we are offering on the market. These are methods that we want to make more use of, as they truly embody our values and our ambitions.