The BiodiversiTerre event meant Veolia could share its vision and commitment to biodiversity with the public.
On 3, 4 and 5 June 2017, Veolia took part in BiodiversiTerre - a 10,000 m2 ephemeral plant installation on Avenue Foch in Paris created by the artist Gad Weil. This initiative, orchestrated by the City of Paris, aimed to raise the public’s awareness of the importance of sustainable development related issues. It was an opportunity for Veolia to communicate in an entertaining and educational way about a topic that is dear to its heart - biodiversity.
Biodiversity under threat
A contraction of the words "biological" and "diversity", biodiversity refers to the multiplicity of species and ecosystems on the Earth.
Global biodiversity is now seriously threatened by the harmful effects of human activity on the environment: pollution, global warming, overexploitation of the environment and its resources (overfishing, deforestation, poaching, etc.). So much so that some experts predict the disappearance of half of all species living on the planet within a century.
At the heart of Veolia's commitments for the environment
Biodiversity is one of the Veolia Group’s three sustainable development commitments, alongside the climate and the circular economy. Three closely intertwined topics because the climate is warming, biodiversity is suffering. But by re-using resources the circular economy offers solutions that limit the impact of humans on their environment.
"Because of its environmental services business and its strong local involvement, Veolia aims to be a key player in preserving biodiversity", explains Pierre Victoria, Senior Executive Vice President Sustainable Development for Veolia. "Our activities interfere with natural environments and their proper functioning. We therefore have to make efforts to reduce both our environmental footprint and that of our customers."
The first objective is sobriety - using less energy and materials while producing less waste and pollution. "The second challenge is the ecological management of the sites we operate: managing landfills in a sustainable way, setting up protection zones around water catchment areas, and so on." Veolia has identified 300 sites worldwide that face major biodiversity challenges – these sites are currently being examined by ecologists. The objective for 2020 is to extend this action to every Veolia site.
Veolia's voluntary participation in the national biodiversity strategy was officially recognized in 2015 by France’s Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and the Sea.
Helping the public understand the issues
Veolia's action also involves raising public awareness. It has taken an educational approach involving companies and civil society for many years. For example, the Group has developed a guide to the ecological management of sites for companies. And in the municipalities where Veolia is responsible for water distribution, a water teaching kit is given to schools free of charge.
Participation in BiodiversiTerre demonstrates a strong desire to contribute to a better understanding of biodiversity, especially for the younger generation. During this long and sunny weekend, the Veolia stand saw thousands of curious people - especially families - pass by. The activities offered in partnership with La REcyclerie met with great success: the recycled paper labyrinth, mini-vegetable garden, aquaponics farm, composting, and the water cycle. The "recyclothon" in particular allowed children to prove their enthusiasm for sorting waste. "I was impressed by the knowledge of the small children - they were much better than the adults. Lots of parents said their children had taught them the recycling rules," said Fanny Demulier, Head of CSR Communication at Veolia. On the three metal trees made by Gad Weil, children and adults were invited to place their "wishes for nature". By the end of the weekend, hundreds of small pieces of paper twirled on the ends of the branches - promises of commitments to biodiversity and the circular economy. To sum up, it was a successful event for Veolia - it succeeded in joyfully and blamelessly sharing the importance of inventing production and consumption methods that are more respectful of the planet and the people on it.