GOING GREEN

Colombia 2020 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Veolia seeks to develop environmental strategies and policies to maintain resources and create better access to them.

Oscar García
BIOGRAPHY

Oscar García is a civil engineer from Universidad de Los Andes with studies in senior management from the same institution. He specialized in geotechnics applied to civil engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Lorraine (France). He has been with Veolia since 2009, when he was appointed general director of Interagua C Ltda in Guayaquil-Ecuador. In 2017, he returned to Colombia to fill the position of Country Director of Veolia Colombia with the mission of directing the company's operations in water, waste, and energy efficiency activities.

What have been the company's greatest achievements in Colombia?
Veolia has been in Colombia since the 1990s, focused on the issue of water, waste, and, more recently, energy efficiency. In water, we are a respected name; we are participating in large concessions in Tunja and Monteria where we have been serving for more than 20 years. We have extended the Tunja contract until 2026, and will maybe extend it further, until 2034. Previously, Tunja did not have complete coverage and suffered from lack of continuous service and operational problems. Today, with the same infrastructure, it has coverage 24 hours a day, water of the highest quality, and an excellent uncounted water ratio of 16%. In Colombia, this number is usually 36%. We have been innovating with technology, waste collection, and disposal. We have 11 environmental parks where we manage the disposal of solid waste. Hubgrade, a registered trademark of Veolia, is for energy efficiency issues, specifically for monitoring and control, so that our customers can reduce their CO2 footprint. We have a large global network through the company. On a global level, Veolia is increasingly oriented toward the industrial sector. In Colombia, our client base is composed of 70% municipal clients and 30% industrial clients.

Veolia has been focusing on becoming a responsible company committed to the future of Colombia. How does this translate to your focus on the future?
Veolia's rationale is to contribute to human development through a series of environmental strategies and policies to maintain resources and have better access to them. We are focused on circular economies from the point of view of sustainability. For example, for plastics, we have global agreements with companies like Nestlé, so that in five years, the plastic they produce can be recycled. With energy, we try to produce it with our waste.

Veolia renewed an agreement with the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI). How does your private approach relate to this agreement?
We want a better environmental education, so this agreement's objective is to manage a program that caters to children of low and medium resources in the seven countries where we are present. With the program and through their artistic expressions, they can imagine a way to transform the world into a better place. Some 35,000 children in Latin America have participated.

What is Veolia's relationship with the oil and gas sector, and how will you continue to serve this sector?
This sector is vital to us since it has to do with our commitment to encouraging circular economies, in terms of environmental protection and upstream and downstream management. We are working hard in this sector with Ecopetrol. We are growing gradually in the refinery space.

Veolia wants to eliminate the emission of 6.6 billion kg of CO2 annually. What are other achievements planned for 2020 and beyond?
In two of our environmental parks, we are already working to reduce CO2 emissions. This CO2 emission reduction management is audited, which allows us to have resources for the sale of carbon bonds later. We are reducing CO2 emissions when we use energy efficiently or when we use waste to produce energy. We are taking these actions in hospitals, shopping centers, and large buildings. Another goal is to increase our portfolio of industrial clients. To help with this, we will use the hubgrade system to create better and smarter ways of managing energy, water, and waste. In water management, Colombia is doing well. As large cities already have efficient operators, we want to focus on medium-sized cities that do not have the same capabilities as Bogotá or Medellín. Regarding energy efficiency, we are working with Coca-Cola Femsa in Barranquilla on the construction of a turbine that will generate cold, heat, and energy for the Barranquilla heat plant. This is a great template of what we want to pursue in the future.