Resilience, from an adaptation strategy to an economic asset

Giving the tools to a city to help make it more resilient to extreme events... Veolia's resilience approach consists of understanding the vulnerabilities in a particular territory and then mitigating them to more effectively - and more quickly - bolster its ecosystem and consequently develop a favourable social and economic context.

Strongly linked to sustainable development, resilience is a relatively new concept. However, Veolia has been implementing it for more than 160 years in its role as a partner of local authorities . The originality of the innovation - the result of the Group’s transformation - is being able to offer a combination of solutions. A single Veolia offering access to expertise in water, waste, energy, and playing its role of operator and adviser, partnering with the territories. Today, anything that can be identified as risk and opportunity from the point of view of resilience falls within our area of expertise.

Making risk an opportunity for growth

Frederiksholm Kanal

Copenhagen is a good example of our approach to resilience . As the Danish capital is subject to heavy rain and flooding in 2012, Veolia developed a modeling and control tool to prevent the discharge of wastewater into the natural environment in the case of bad weather events. This has improved the quality of the water to the point that it is now possible to swim right in the city centre! By making it possible to exploit this "natural asset", we have fostered the attractiveness of the city.

It is a fact. Cities compete to attract people, tourists and capital – and resilience is a powerful argument. The initiatives “Only Lyon ” and “I Amsterdam ” clearly illustrate the point. In addition to the economic resistance of a city, credit agencies now include risks associated with climate exposure in their calculations. Therefore, the ability to raise funds is now strongly linked to resilience!


Resilience strategy

Today we provide an offering for cities that we have developed with our partner Swiss Re, the world's leading reinsurer, which offers attractive products such as parametric insurance based on a knowledge of climate variations. These extremely sophisticated modelling tools provide us with information about the probability and intensity of events as well as the degree to which a city is exposed. And by exploiting public data (on sea levels, etc.), we are beginning to anticipate as far ahead as 2050 or even 2070.


Our common strategy views a city as an ecosystem and considers its resilience at the most relevant territorial scale  (local, regional, national) in line with the economic development policy in place. In this respect and in terms of resilience New Orleans is one of our most representative contracts. Involved in the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Initiative (100 RCs), the city launched in 2016 a strategic roadmap called “Resilient New Orleans” which broadens the spectrum to include all aspects that contribute to its economic and social renewal.

In parallel, discussions are already well-advanced with around fifteen other cities in the "100 RC". In addition, we deploy a similar approach with our industrial partners.
Veolia now no longer offers its partners and customers a product or a service but performance.