Having met the challenge of the 20th century (i.e. bring water to every French household), the main focus of the 21st century will be to protect the quality and quantity of the resource. This means finding the right balance between all water uses and making sure that all stakeholders commit to apply best practices to water use and management. Convinced that the future of water must be written with everyone involved, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT- Lyonnaise des Eaux launched the “New Ideas on Water” (“Idées Neuves”) project in 2010
SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT – Lyonnaise des eaux
stakeholder, dialogue, public participation, governance, innovation
Having met the challenge of the 20th century (i.e. bring water to every French household), the main focus of the 21st century will be to protect the quality and quantity of the resource. This means finding the right balance between all water uses and making sure that all stakeholders commit to apply best practices to water use and management. Convinced that the future of water must be written with everyone involved, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT- Lyonnaise des Eaux launched the “New Ideas on Water” (“Idées Neuves”) project in 2010.
Farmers, industrialists, experts in very diverse areas, but also elected representatives, consumers or employees of Lyonnaise des Eaux, have been associated to a one year long consultation process, both via the Forum of New Ideas about Water (more than 70 experts heard + local meetings with more than a hundred elected representatives) and via a collaborative platform, www.ideesneuvessurleau.net (104,240 individuals visits, 513 registered users, 168 ideas added) open to the public at large and also to Lyonnaise des Eaux employees via the intranet (600 members, over a hundred ideas proposed). Thus, the project was also a lever for internal change.
Fuelled by more than a year’s collective work, Lyonnaise des Eaux has proposed innovative solutions to local authorities founded on 3 main axes:
- Empowering local administrative bodies in the area of contract management and encouraging communities’ right to be informed.
- Reinforcing the economic model to bring together the interests of all actors towards protecting the resource
- Being a pioneer of innovation in the water sector and in the service of all those who use it
Based on those proposals, Lyonnaise des Eaux is now in process to sign Charters for local Water governance with its clients, adapted to local needs and ambitions. The whole process will be monitored by an independent CSR rating agency.
France (national and local levels)
- Lyonnaise des Eaux General Direction initiated and designed the project.
- 2 permanent committees of 10 members (5 external and 5 internal experts) conducted the stakeholder hearings (farmers, industrialists, consumers, NGOs, academics) and selected the relevant proposals that have then been discussed locally with elected representatives.
- The public at large contributed via the internet platform.
- Lyonnaise des Eaux employees contributed via the intranet.
- The General Direction of Lyonnaise des Eaux was deeply involved at each stage of the project which has been entirely conducted under the active presidency of Erik Orsenna: this was a key driver for the success of the project, especially regarding the internal change process.
- Part of the regular monitoring of its CSR strategy, the project and its outputs will be evaluated by the CSR rating agency Vigeo.
After more than a year of collective work, Lyonnaise des Eaux disclosed its proposals, called the New Deal for Water Wealth, at the French summit of local authorities in November 2011. Lyonnaise des Eaux is now in process to sign charters for local water governance with its clients: measures could include appointing a supervisory committee to oversee the contract, providing an Open Data system for different uses or appointing a controller from the community, etc., depending on the local needs and ambitions. These measures are being included into contracts.
The objective was to create innovative approaches/ solutions based on both the expectations enunciated and a shared analysis of the new water deal. Some examples of the underlying questions include:
- How to strengthen the role of local authorities and better adapt to the specific needs of the regions?
- How to protect the resource, and at what price?
- How to proceed from curative solutions to preventive solutions?
- Is it possible to continue to pay based solely on the quantity in m3 sold when the challenge is to encourage the consumers to adopt responsible usage?
- Should water bills include the price of protecting the resource?
All the discussions and contributions have been gathered in four “water notebooks” (1: Value and price of water in the 21st century; 2: Water, science and technology; 3: best consumers’ ideas ; 4: comments of elected representatives) in order to be shared with the greatest number of people. The most interesting ideas posted on the public platform have also been awarded by Lyonnaise des eaux. Thus, “Idées neuves” has contributed to renew the water debate in France.
Both internal and external contributions also fuelled the Charter for local water governance and allowed innovative solutions to emerge. Therefore, “Idées Neuves” should contribute to a more effective and more open management of water services and resources.
- Quantity and quality of the contributions
- Participation of all stakeholders including those with conflicting interests
- Number of local water governance charters signed
- Integration of the proposals in the daily water management and operator’s processes
+ independent evaluation by a CSR rating agency (Vigeo)
This solution could be replicated both at national and local levels. It would be highly relevant to a fast changing context (i.e. regulatory framework, industrial and/or societal changes, etc.) since it allows a total renewal of the way of thinking. It would better be initiated by a public authority but could also be conducted by an operator if supported by the public authority.
- Independent supervision and monitoring are an absolute necessity
- Strong support from the public authority is needed if the project is initiated by an operator
- Involving all stakeholders, including those with conflicting interests, is the key driver for a fruitful debate
- Strong support and steady engagement of top managers is needed to leverage the project for internal change.
SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT – Lyonnaise de Eaux, Hélène Parent, firstname.lastname@example.org
New ideas on water (website in French): http://www.lyonnaise-des-eaux.fr/tendances-et-opinions/idees-neuves-sur-leau
New deal for water wealth (website in French): http://www.contratpourlasantedeleau.fr/