Veolia's raison d'être "Resourcing the world

A forerunner, the water, waste and energy giant was one of the first to adopt a raison d'être, revealed at the Annual General Meeting on April 18, 2019. After internal debate, the final text adopted by the Group, "Ressourcer le monde", reveals the Group's ambition and gives meaning to its action. In particular, it reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of the SDGs, thereby remaining true to the vision of its CEO, for whom "a company is successful because it is useful, and not the other way around." 

To complete this text, Veolia is working on a multi-dimensional performance dashboard that will form part of the company's strategic plan for the years 2020-2023.

At this stage, the Group has no plans to submit the raison d'être to a shareholder vote or to enshrine it in its articles of association.

A non-statutory raison d'être that drives corporate strategy

"Veolia's raison d'être is to contribute to human progress, by resolutely adhering to the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the UN, in order to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. With this in mind, Veolia's mission is to "Resource the world", through its environmental services business.

At Veolia, we are convinced that the continued development of humankind is only possible if economic, social and environmental issues are addressed as an inseparable whole. This conviction is rooted in the company's history, which, since its creation in 1853, has shown the way by making access to drinking water an essential lever for public health and quality of life.

Through our current activities in water, waste and energy, we provide our public and private customers around the world with solutions that facilitate access to essential services and natural resources, preserve them and use and recycle them efficiently.

Improving our environmental footprint and that of our customers is at the heart of our business and our business model.

We are a company that is simultaneously local and global, with a high level of technical expertise and manpower, and a long-term vision. We guarantee our customers long-term commitment to results, thanks to our many years of experience, the quality of our services and our strong capacity for innovation.

We are a working community where, in addition to an income and respect for health and safety at work, everyone can find meaning in their activity, a commitment to a rewarding collective approach and personal fulfillment.

Through training, Veolia ensures the development of the skills of its employees, the vast majority of whom are manual and technical workers. The company relies on their responsibility and autonomy at all levels and in all countries, and promotes professional equality between men and women. Veolia fosters social dialogue, particularly within employee representative bodies, which helps employees to take ownership of our collective project.

Veolia complies with all applicable laws and regulations. It also applies widely disseminated ethical rules in line with its values of responsibility, solidarity, respect, innovation and customer focus.

Veolia's prosperity is based on its usefulness to all its stakeholders - customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, current populations and future generations - in the various territories in which it operates.

The company's performance must therefore be assessed according to a number of dimensions corresponding to these different audiences. The company pays equal attention to each of these dimensions. This is how Veolia is preparing for the future, protecting the environment while meeting the vital needs of humanity."

A raison d'être co-constructed with shareholders and stakeholders

The development of Veolia's raison d'être was the result of a long and collaborative process involving the company's management bodies, employees, the Critical Friends Committee (external experts), customers and citizen panels. Adopted by its Board of Directors, it was presented at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on April 18, 2019.

This raison d'être has led Veolia to seek to manage through plural performance: " Veolia is committed to plural performance, which places the same level of attention and requirements on its economic and financial, commercial, social, societal and environmental performance. Its 18 indicators are associated with progress targets up to 2023, which will be regularly audited and measured by independent bodies. They will be included in the calculation of the variable remuneration of Veolia's senior executives," states the Veolia website.

More concretely, a Stakeholder Committee, made up of experts from civil society and representatives of customers, suppliers, employees and future generations, has been set up to ensure that the company's raison d'être is fulfilled. To embody this vision of plural performance and ensure the steering of Veolia's strategy, a new "Strategy and Innovation" department has also been created. 

A pioneering group led by a CEO convinced that a company's prosperity depends first and foremost on its usefulness.

During his presentation to the press, Antoine Frérot clarified the purpose of this approach: "Starting from our mission 'Resourcing the world', this raison d'être will specify how and in what way our company is useful to all those who contribute directly or indirectly to its running," explains Antoine Frérot. "This will be our project, our ambition, for Veolia to be perceived as useful or even indispensable by its customers, prosperous and grateful for its shareholders but also engaging and even exciting for its employees. (...) Through the expression of this raison d'être, I want Veolia to appear as an inspiring company." The raison d' être must therefore be both the "course the group is aiming for, a means of showing the horizon of its ambition and anchoring it more firmly in the long term."

The first sentence of Veolia's raison d'être, "To contribute to human progress, by resolutely adhering to the sustainable development goals defined by the UN, in order to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all", taken up by Les Echos in a November 2019 article, testifies to the ambition of the Group led by a CEO - Antoine Frérot - who himself began " more than ten years ago to reflect on the role of companies ".

As Antoine Frérot reminded us, the raison d'être is much more binding and engaging than a simple signature: "Please don't think of the raison d'être as a simple slogan. It's a direction that echoes our mission, 'resourcing the world', and which is intended to impact all our actions.

" Veolia irrigates its 2020-2023 strategy with its raison d'être ," noted La Tribune in March 2020. With the aim of " making Veolia the benchmark company for the ecological transition ", the company remains guided by one priority: " the search for maximum positive impact, societal, environmental and financial." insisted the CEO.

From raison d'être to raison d'agir Veolia: a new public service delegation for Bordeaux, an example of positive-sum action.

Veolia has signed a new public service delegation contract for waste recovery and management with the Bordeaux metropolitan area in September 2019. The 7-year contract covers waste treatment for 770,000 inhabitants. Thanks to investments and the use of both automation and artificial intelligence, the 3 waste-to-energy units will be modernized, enabling them to anticipate future, more demanding European regulations. Waste-to-energy plants will also convert the heat from incinerators into heating for around 34,000 homes and electricity for 100,000 households. Last but not least, Veolia will be helping to achieve the objectives of Bordeaux Métropole 2050, as the region seeks to demonstrate its positive impact. 

More generally, Veolia contributes to the SDGs by participating to a greater or lesser extent in their implementation. In particular, the Group plays a major role in 13 of the SDGs, whose issues directly concern its raison d'être.