GO WITH THE FLOW

Panama 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Water and wastewater management are more important than ever before, as climate change renders weather more volatile. SUEZ is ready to help.

Francisco Beltrán
BIOGRAPHY
Francisco Beltrán is a mechanical engineer with a specialization in water treatment. He joined the SUEZ Group in 1986. He has worked in the subsidiaries of Argentina, Spain, and Mexico, respectively as Project Manager; General Director of Spain and Portugal; General Director of Mexico, and Deputy General Director of Latin America. Throughout this experience, he has been involved in the design, construction, and operation of more than 15 wastewater treatment plants, more than 10 seawater desalination plants, and more than 15 drinking water plants internationally. Today, Beltrán is CEO of SUEZ in Central America, the Caribbean, Colombia, and Ecuador, where projects are being developed in water cycle management and solid waste management.

With more than 1,300 employees in Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador, how have you managed your resources in a sustainable way?

SUEZ has set an ambitious target to respond to the environmental, economic, and social challenges of the 21st century. In fact, worldwide, and more than elsewhere in Latin America, water scarcity has become a major challenge and we estimate the gap between demand and supply will reach 40% in 2030. Our aim is to implement solutions that could reduce this and help every citizen get access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. One of the best examples that I can mention is the complete water management we implemented in Cartagena de Indias in Colombia. Our subsidiary, Aguas de Cartagena, celebrated 24 years of successes this year. We built water networks to reach 99.9% of coverage of aqueducts and offer a continuity of service to our 260,000 customers. With sustainable technologies implemented, we also acquired several certifications, such as the ISO 14000.

What have been SUEZ's major accomplishments over its 50 years in the Colombian market?

SUEZ is one of the five-oldest French companies in Colombia, believing in the sustainable development of the country despite the difficulties we've tackled up. Implementing the notion of sustainability in Latin America 50 years ago was not easy, but we are proud of having this historical presence in Colombia where we worked with both the industrial sector (Ecopetrol in 1997) and municipalities (Palmira, Cali, Cartagena, and Bogotá). Moreover, we are present in both the water and waste sectors. Over the last few decades, Colombia has significantly expanded the management of its water and waste resources, preserving the environment and improving the quality of life and health of almost 49 million inhabitants. Although challenges remain, SUEZ is proud to have participated in Colombia's environmental development.

What do your operations in Panama represent for your business portfolio?

We have an important presence in Panama considering that since 2008 it became our base for the Central American and Caribbean region. Panama has invested in a large program to reinforce sanitation in the capital called “Sanitation Program of Panama," which is unique in its magnitude and efficiency. Hence, SUEZ took part in this adventure building and operating the wastewater treatment plant in Juan Díaz and operating the sewage networks in Panama City. Therefore, the Panama plant is one of the most advanced in Latin America and the biggest in Central America.

Could you tell us more about your commitment to the circular economy and your activities here in the short term?

The circular economy has started to become a commonplace. It has been years since SUEZ changed its approach to the business by promoting sustainable solutions to industrial and governmental clients. The circular economy is the result of innovation and collaboration between players and collective intelligence. In the short term, we would like to build self-sufficient projects in order to reduce energy consumption. In Panama, we built the first module of Juan Díaz, reaching 18% energy self-sufficiency. In 2020, the second module will allow the plant to reach 25% self-sufficiency. Thus, we will move forward with the implementation of a sustainable business model.

What are your goals and expectations for 2019?

On a global Scale, SUEZ implemented a project called “Shaping 2030" that gave us the general roadmap of the company. On the back of our valuable assets, such as our values, reputation, experience, and human resources, we plan to target the industrial market in Panama and Central America by using our innovations as a key competitive advantage. On a local scale, we are working on the implementation of advanced solutions to help cities in the optimization of water management.