The Vice-Presidency for the association’s “Business” body is now represented by a duo consisting of Bruno Hervet (Director of Suez Consulting and Vice-President of Smart and Resourceful Cities for Suez) and Virginie Alonzi (Director of Prospective for Bouygues Construction).
[A joint interview on their commitment to SCbF and the reasons behind this alliance in service of businesses.]
SCbF – Can you explain the origins of your commitment within Sustainable City by France?
BH: Suez has been involved in the association since its early days, back when it was called the Institute for Sustainable Cities in 2016. At that time, we had half the number of members we have now, and the action was just starting to take shape with the available resources and personnel.
As Suez, I made the decision to invest in this association because we needed a platform for dialogue and the sharing of expertise between public and private professionals to make progress in the field of sustainable cities. Even back then, we believed that the key to transforming territories lay in an integrated approach to the challenges, and that can only be achieved by involving all stakeholders. I then worked at the head of the “Business” body to promote the association among private actors, to strengthen our workforce and expand the range of available expertise.
VA: The Bouygues group was also involved during the time of the Institute for Sustainable Cities, but it is in recent years that the group has increased its participation, in addition to COLAS, which was already involved in the association. Bouygues Construction joined Sustainable City by France in 2020, and I quickly became involved in co-piloting working groups – Digital and Resilience, Health and Urban Planning – which perfectly aligned with our prospective approaches. It provided an opportunity to share our visions, exchange perspectives, and test our courses of action with the public and private actors gathered within SCbF. We immediately recognized the added value of the association and strengthened our commitment in 2021 with the arrival of the Bouygues group and its subsidiaries, allowing us to play a role in the Board of Directors.
SCbF – The Vice-Presidency of the “Business” body was previously held by Bruno Hervet alone. What were the factors that motivated your joint candidacy for this new mandate?
BH: This duo for the Vice-Presidency of the “Business” body demonstrates the good health and growth of the association! When the Institute for Sustainable Cities had only about sixty members, the “Business” body of Sustainable City by France now has around fifty private actors. It is the largest body in terms of the number of members, and new actors of all sizes continue to join us. Another important factor is the multiplication and decentralization of our actions, both in regions with the territorial workshops of Sustainable City by France, which have been very successful, and internationally. We decided to combine our efforts with Virginie, supporting the mobilization of expertise and business prospecting since we always strive to strengthen our workforce.
VA: Our synergies are aligned, our expertise complements each other, and we want to work together toward the same goals: accelerating the sustainable transformation of cities and territories. It makes sense to join forces to pool our efforts in this regard and contribute to further enhancing the reputation and visibility of this association that works for the public interest, moving away from the usual competitive logic.
SCbF – What is your shared ambition for Sustainable City by France and its member businesses in the next 3 years?
VA: To continue this dynamic cooperation around common issues and contribute to accelerating the transformation of our models with the support and expertise of our member businesses and all stakeholders of the association. In this context, as Bruno mentioned, we want to continue attracting new expertise, particularly in sectors that are currently underrepresented (such as mobility actors) to strengthen SCbF’s unique position as an integrator of expertise for sustainable cities. The association’s work is freely accessible, so in line with the public interest, we will work to promote the methodologies and operational solutions we identify through working groups and territorial workshops. I would like to conclude by emphasizing the importance of promoting and increasing the participation of private actors in these territorial or “decentralized” workshops, which are privileged spaces for interaction with participating local authorities, to develop potential solutions and contribute significantly to territorial projects and resilience strategies.
BH: In addition to this, we will also strengthen our ties with the association’s other bodies, particularly the “Experts” body, including the scientific committee of Sustainable City by France, to encourage cross-pollination between our businesses and the academic world and incorporate research action perspectives. Finally, the international roadmap also looks very promising, with the success of the first delegation to Poland in November 2022, where about ten companies, alongside elected officials and representatives from the State and public operators, made the trip to promote French vision and expertise and strengthen cooperation between French and Polish professionals. Therefore, we will continue and strengthen our international actions in support of French economic diplomacy in the sustainable cities sector.