Your challenges

Cities are changing in pace with the rest of the world. Very quickly. As digitalisation creeps into every aspect of city dwellers’ lives, the emergence of more fluid and faster interconnected urban systems is definitely not far away. Technology can be an excellent accelerator, provided that the real uses and needs in changing cities are clearly identified at the earliest possible stage. SUEZ is focussing on six challenges to build a model of the city of tomorrow that meets the expectations of local authorities, who are demanding well-being and a high standard of communal life for their inhabitants.


Cities capable of withstanding climatic events

Local authorities are now systematically called to account whenever totally unforeseeable events occur (weather-related incidents, earthquakes, major fires, etc.) and cause damage to all or part of a conurbation.
As a part of regional and urban development policies, resilience is the capacity of a city to adapt to events, to limit the impacts of natural disasters, and to restore normal service as quickly as possible.
How can a city be made resilient and capable of anticipating the unforeseeable, while making the right investments?
Resilient cities are designed or adapted to be ready for the negative consequences of crises that affect entire regions.

Innovative urban construction and reconversion can help to limit the economic, social and ecological impacts of crises affecting entire regions, in particular on certain networks or buildings (hospitals, heating networks, etc.).

open_resource conference: Jeff HEBERT - New Orleans, USA / Let’s make resilient cities - SUEZ

Credit: SUEZ group

Jeff Hebert, who was New Orleans’ first Chief Resilience Officer, presents the “Resilient New Orleans Project” which was set up after Hurricane Katrina to tackle future threats and risks. He explains how the strategy enabled the city to switch from a convalescent mindset to resistance: « It is very important for a city like New Orleans that has pushed back nature for so long, to understand that actually nature can be our saving grace. »
Quality of life

A resourceful city where life is good

After successive waves of rural exoduses, today, population growth is concentrated mainly in towns and cities. Since the end of the 2000s, more than one half of the population has been living in an urban environment for the first time in the history of mankind. But this worldwide average hides some significant disparities: more than 80% of the populations of the most developed counties lives in urban areas, compared with less than 45% in developing countries.

How can we guarantee, or even improve the quality of life of inhabitants in the most densely populated cities? Guaranteed water quality, improved air quality, clean streets, waste collection and security are all factors that contribute to the quality of life in a city.

of the world's population lives in cities
of the inhabitants of the most developed countries are urban dwellers
The environment

Environmentally-friendly growth

Population growth and rampant urbanisation are fuelling the geometric expansion of urban areas and densification in areas that are already under stress. By 2030, the total surface area of urban areas is expected to increase three-fold, while the population inhabiting them is only expected to double, from 3.84 billion to 4.9 billion people, or 60% of the worldwide population. This urbanisation will weigh heavily on natural resources on a major scale, putting pressure on available land, ecosystems and biodiversity.

The growth of these new urban areas will demand vast quantities of materials, minerals, including rare earths, and energy. And it will take place in highly densified spaces that are a source of mass waste production.

The issues raised by the growth of these urban zones can only be addressed by planning cities to consume less and through greater synergy between consumption and production.

Before even considering growth, cities must immediately face up to some major environmental issues (recurrent congestion, atmospheric pollution, waste management, drinking water supplies, etc.) in order to offer their inhabitants the quality of life they expect.
of the world's population will be urban in 2050
is the increase in energy consumption by 2050
is the increase in water needs

A new kind of governance

Centralised governance: several major countries have opted for centralisation, with a single decision-making centre and no distinction between national and local powers.
Others have preferred decentralisation.
  • This allows for numerous decision-making centres that are relatively autonomous.
  • It is founded on a transfer of administrative authority and improved control of decisions taken at a local level.
In the decentralised model, local politicians have more power, and they can establish more intelligent forms of governance that are better adapted to the reality of their region.
  • The stakeholders can become involved, NGOs, businesspeople and the inhabitants can take part in the discussions and the work done by the different policy-making bodies.
  • Innovative structures can be created to manage projects to transform local policy (public-private partnerships, consideration of input from professionals, who may or may not be present locally, but who can provide local politicians and authorities with a new vision and expert knowledge of certain subjects).
The economy

Attractiveness is also economically driven

Cities are facing increasing competition from each other, mainly due to globalisation. To boost their economic development, they must attract business, commerce and investment, as well as new residents by offering an attractive living environment (cultural facilities, residential areas, green spaces, schools etc.).


Attractiveness boosts competitiveness. A region has all the more chance of being competitive when it is able to attract new economic resources.


So the issue of regional attractiveness is now a key priority in regional development policy.

Civic participation

A participatory and inclusive city

We are seeing new forms of urban organisation whereby every citizen can participate in debates and help make decisions. So tomorrow’s city has a duty to be:

  • participatory, as citizens seek to get involved in the public and private decisions that have a direct or indirect impact on their local authority. They now expect to be consulted on important projects and informed of their progress and subsequent results,
  • and inclusive, by ensuring all inhabitants are involved in the life of the city and by taking up the challenges posed by social and digital divide.

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