Interview with Xavier Litrico, WE Board Member of college A ‘Multinational Corporations’
You are a Water Europe board member of college A ‘Multinational Corporations’- Could you tell us what drives you personally to have this role at Water Europe? What do you want to achieve?
SUEZ is a founding member of Water Europe, and as such is deeply engaged in promoting innovations in water to the European level. As Chief Science & Technology Officer of SUEZ, it is part of my job to connect with leading water actors at European level, and that’s what you find in the Water Europe board! For me, it is important to promote research and innovation as key development tools for the water industry, and I feel that being part of Water Europe board is a good place for that.
SUEZ has gone through an important transition over the last year. How would you describe the mission of the new SUEZ and why do you consider it important to be part of Water Europe?
Indeed, last year was an important transition for SUEZ. Our research, innovation, and construction capacities remain unchanged. We now have new shareholders (Meridiam, GIP and the Caisse des Dépôts Group), a new President and CEO, Sabrina Soussan, and a new strategy, which focuses on our core businesses in water and waste, and strengthens innovation and research, including a 50% increase in R&I investment by 2027.
SUEZ is founding member of Water Europe, and needs to keep its position within the board, as it is an important multinational corporation in the water business, in Europe but also internationally.
Which ones do you consider the biggest challenges of the European water sector, at the moment, and how do you see us overcoming them?
Recent drought events in Europe this year showed that availability of water, which was assumed as a given until recently, is now at risk. At the same time, an excess of water has caused dramatic consequences in recent years (floods, heavy storms, etc.) Ensuring just and large access to water for everyone is therefore a priority for Europe. And we need to overcome these issues in a context where energy is rare, and inflation high. We therefore need to develop solutions, including technological ones to optimize water and energy uses, but also new business models to ensure that water is financed in order to ensure its economic sustainability while preserving the resource. Concerning wastewater, the European Commission unveiled on the 26th October the revision of the urban wastewater treatment directive. We hope that the level of ambition will be maintained, because it tackles crucial stakes: micropollutants treatment, use of wastewater systems to track viruses, more balanced ways to finance the treatments through the implementation of extender producer responsibility…
Building a water-smart society is our vision. Which actions shall we prioritise to make this happen?
Building a water-smart society is a vision with which SUEZ is perfectly aligned. This includes developing innovation in technology, uses and business models in order to promote the value of water. The actions that should be prioritized:
– Ensure collaboration between public and private entities to develop innovative and largely adopted solutions;
– Test and deploy existing solutions, using territories as labs to promote these solutions (water-oriented living labs);
-Continue to communicate the shared vision of Water Europe to increase its impact on decision makers, and even a larger public.