An SDG Pioneer for Climate Action through Resource Efficiency in Water and Waste Management

An SDG Pioneer for Climate Action through Resource Efficiency in Water and Waste Management

Jean-Louis Chaussade has shaped a five-year Sustainable Development Roadmap that will help Suez keep delivering clean water and sanitation services to millions of people on five continents while taking stronger steps to safeguard the natural resources of an increasingly fragile planet.

Since he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the French water and waste management multinational a decade ago, Jean-Louis has entrenched sustainable development into the company’s business strategy. To deal with the threat of climate change, shrinking biodiversity and dwindling natural resources, he has championed a transformation of Suez’s business model that radically upgrades its environmental management methods. Suez has emerged as a leader in the crucial shift that all companies must make from a “use and throw away” approach to a “resource efficiency approach”. By keeping resources in use for as long as possible and regenerating products and materials at the end of their service life, Suez helps its customers — including cities and industries — curb their greenhouse gas emissions and soften their impact on the earth.

The 2021 targets in the company’s 2017-2021 Sustainable Development Roadmap, unveiled at European Sustainable Development Week in the spring of 2017, mesh with two Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation and Goal 12 on Responsible Production and Consumption. The targets also help embed the UN Global Compact Ten Principles into the company’s long-term business strategy. Jean-Louis ensures the company’s management committee regularly discusses — and approves — its sustainability objectives.

The 2017-2021 roadmap hinges on four priorities: Be a collaborative, open and responsible company; be the leader of the circular and low-carbon economy; support, with concrete solutions, the environmental transition of its clients; and contribute to the common good.

To move Suez toward a more circular economy, Jean-Louis has actively integrated the economic value of environmental performance within its business model. For example, Suez’ financial team now incorporates the shadow price of carbon when assessing the potential risks and opportunities of its investments.

By integrating the costs of environmental performance, Suez also prods its customers into choosing more progressive and innovative methods of recovering materials and energy. And the practice sparks innovation within the company. For example, the use of carbon pricing should increase the financial competitiveness of polymers recycling in the near future.

Jean-Louis has been an ardent advocate of the waste and water management industry’s passage toward resource recovery. In 2017, seventy per cent of waste collected by Suez in Europe was recovered through the form of secondary raw materials or energy.

Collaboration is an important part of Suez’ strategy and Jean-Louis works with the company’s value chain partners, other stakeholders and other companies to make sure they understand the need for a more circular economy that is inclusive and emits less carbon. The 65-year-old executive was chairman of the AFEP (Association française des entreprises privies) circular economy working group in France, which encouraged nearly three dozen French companies to lay down commitments toward greater resource efficiency. Three years ago, he was instrumental in forging the Business Alliance for Water and Climate Change. The alliance consists of more than 30 private sector companies developing innovative best practices, particularly in the circular water management area.

The Global Compact Local Networks also play an important role in the company’s learning curve. Suez has participated in Local Network’ workshops in France and Spain and supported the creation of a Local Network in Morocco in 2017. The collaboration helps Suez pinpoint techniques to work with customers and suppliers and reduce all participants’ impact on the environment.

Jean-Louis is an Officer of the French Legion of Honor.

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