Cooperation for sustainable development


Sustainable Development, globalisation, migration, human rights and climate change. These are the challenges facing all those countries which, like Italy, are committed to international cooperation and development policies. These policies are set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and they are designed to strengthen the synergies between all the organisations involved. This was one of the guiding themes of Co[opera], the National Development Cooperation Conference. The event, which was held in Rome on 24 and 25 January, was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development. Its title was: “Innovation and the future: the world of Italian Cooperation.”

The conference featured two days of high-level meetings, round tables and in-depth analysis. More than 3,000 participants helped provide an overview of Development cooperation in Italy four years on from the reforms in this field. It was an opportunity to bring institutions, NGOs, companies and the academic world together with the aim of demonstrating how this sector can offer interesting job opportunities for young people, and develop a pathway towards the creation of “global citizenship.”

The role of companies is key, and sustainable and shared development models can be created through dialogue with national and local institutions. Proof of this can be found in the experience of Enel, which together with other representatives from Italian industry and business, explained its commitment to cooperation and development. Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing at Enel, took part in the round table dedicated to the role of the private sector. She highlighted the need for a paradigm shift, beginning with the need to move beyond the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Nowadays no company can expect to survive on the market in the long term without behaving responsibly. In order to do this, explained Papetti, our Group has redefined its strategy, incorporating the concept of creating shared value into the business model. By applying this approach, our company has tried to redefine its role in relation to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“As a company, we are committed to the achievement of four specific SDGs by 2020: these include the target of guaranteeing universal access to clean and sustainable energy (SDG7),” said Papetti. “This is one of the most important goals of the UN 2030 Agenda because it impacts on all of the others, from education to security and access to the employment market.”

In order to continue to create value for our company in the long term and shared value for our stakeholders, it is fundamental for us to interact with everyone involved in the sector, beginning with the local community, in order to find shared sustainable solutions. This also means offering access to new technologies or providing finance to support the development of technologies in the local scenarios. Innovation, therefore, and sustainability are the guiding principles for contributing to the creation of a fairer world in which we want to be a leading company.

This model is worth replicating also in the approach to cooperation. “We must introduce a concept of cooperation for sustainable development that is long term and with measurable impacts. It is important that institutions, business and society work together in order to achieve a fairer outcome,” concluded Papetti.

During the Conference, which was opened by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano and the Ministry’s Secretary General Elisabetta Belloni, it became clear that in recent years Italy has assumed a key role in the field of international cooperation. The debate reinforced the idea that policies of cooperation and development – thanks to a commitment to fairer economic development and globalisation, the defence of human rights and the fight against climate change – are now essential keystones of national policy.