In the context of the 150th anniversary of Aigües de Barcelona, Agbar's Executive Chairman, Angel Simón, stressed that “the company wants to be next to the citizens and the administrations, as we have been over these last 150 years, and we therefore want them to have our support when it comes to confronting the challenges of the city and of the country”. This was the ultimate message of the talk offered at midday today by Angel Simón during a lunch-colloquium at the Casa Llotja de Mar organized by Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. “Guaranteeing sustainable water supply and sewerage are two of the major key challenges of the city of Barcelona, and the solution involves investing in reuse and wastewater treatment”, he stated.
To achieve this, the company will continue along the path of excellence in water management and the application of cutting-edge technology. Likewise, as part of its commitment against social exclusion, it will continue to guarantee that no one goes without water because they cannot afford to pay for it. “We are already giving the citizens a voice to involve them in this social dividend and, moreover, we will continue to make progress to establish social councils in the neighbourhoods”, added Angel Simón. In this respect he indicated that, since 2012, some 16,400 families (over 50,000 people) have benefited from discounts to pay for the water supply, representing the allocation of over €5.7m to the Solidarity Fund in order to guarantee the right to water for people at risk of social exclusion.
During his intervention, Angel Simón also emphasized that “Aigües de Barcelona has always been present to respond to the most difficult moments in the history of Barcelona - epidemics, episodes of drought, multiplication of the population -, investing in infrastructures, innovating and placing its knowledge at the service of the city and of the citizens. All this is because historically there has been a long-term mutual commitment between the company and the administrations, and also thanks to the talent of the people who have devoted their professional career to this commitment to Barcelona and water. This project is possible thanks to the effort, determination and professionalism of many people. Over these 150 years, six generations of employees have passed through the company, 100,000 people who have devoted their professional career to the water service”. He likewise stated that “a company whose core business is to manage water and which devotes all its efforts to achieving this, will certainly do so verging on excellence”.
It was likewise revealed that Aigües de Barcelona is the only urban water company to have achieved ISO 22000 certification, which demonstrates that the water supplied has the same health quality as any food product, that year after year the company reduces the energy consumption of the complete water cycle and that, in the sphere of the industry, it is committed to progressing toward the circular economy, the objective of which is to achieve zero waste. “Sustainable development is one of our strategic pillars. We innovate each day to make it come true”, maintained Angel Simón. An example of this is that the company currently develops water leak detection technology by satellite together with companies from the United States and Israel. Another example is CitySensia, a device which, incorporated into Aigües de Barcelona's fleet of vehicles, allows the environmental quality of the city to be known in real time.
Agbar's economic impact in Catalonia
During the lunch-colloquium, the conclusions were also highlighted of a study prepared by Barcelona Chamber of Commerce which quantifies the global impact of Agbar's presence in Catalonia. Thus, in 2015, Agbar generated an economic impact of €1.96bn in Catalonia, representing €5m a day. It also contributed to the GDP of Catalonia with €904m, that is to say 0.42%; it has created 10,202 full-time jobs, and has generated almost €235m in tax revenue.
In relation to Agbar's impact in Barcelona Metropolitan Area, it is half the figure for Catalonia. That is to say that Agbar had an economic impact of €980m in the metropolitan area. In relation to full-time jobs, the metropolitan area generated almost four thousand, that is 40% of the Catalan total. “The most important thing is for the benefits to spread to all sectors and to the whole of Catalonia, and that more than 92% of the company's suppliers are from Barcelona Metropolitan Area”, maintains Angel Simón.
The lunch-colloquium also included the presence of the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, and of the Deputy Editor of La Vanguardia, Manel Pérez, who after the presentation moderated a colloquium open to the attendees.
The lunch-colloquiums of the Chamber of Commerce are permanent debating forums with distinguished personalities from the sphere of politics, business and the economy. They are held monthly in the Casa Llotja de Mar, the headquarters of this association, and their objective is to debate the needs, concerns and interests of Catalan business leaders, and to discuss the economic and social agenda of the country.