“The routes of sustainability” at the CSR and Social Innovation Fair

Published on Monday, 8 October 2018

“Enel’s business model incorporates the strategic cornerstones of the circular economy: the use of materials and energy sources that are renewable, recyclable or biodegradable over consecutive life cycles, as well as extending product life and using platforms for working together”

– Luca Meini, Head of Circular Economy and Environmental Strategies, Enel

During the seminar, Stefano Arduini, editor-in-chief of Vita magazine, pointed out that Italy is at the forefront of circularity in Europe today and possesses all the necessary requirements to guide the process of economic transition away from the old model of linear development. According to the latest Eurostat data, Italy follows Great Britain among the large European countries for efficiency in material consumption, using just 256.3 tonnes for each million euro produced. Over the past decade, from 2008 to today, the rate of consumption has actually halved. Italy stands in second place (after Germany) for industrial recycling, with 48.5 million tonnes of non-toxic waste sent for recovery, with a primary energy saving of over 17 million tonnes of oil per year and approx. 60 million tonnes of CO2 (data from the Italian Institute of Environmental Research). For each kilogram of resources consumed, Italy generates 4 euro of GDP, in terms of PPS (Purchasing Power Standard), compared to an average of 2.24. The latest study by Symbola, in collaboration with Unioncamere, confirms that investing in the circular economy is profitable for the environment and for business: 41% of the businesses involved in eco-innovation have reported a growth in employment compared to 31% of the rest, while they also signalled an increase in exports in 49% of the cases (compared to 33% of the others).

How to guide innovation

Despite the excellent performance of circularity thus far, there is still much room for improvement. The business world is leading the way ahead, however, and offers some virtuous examples of governance. 

The steps taken in this direction by Enel were presented at the seminar “Sustainability and change: governance, processes and people”. Giulia Genuardi, Head of Sustainability Planning & Performance Management at Enel, distinguished three levels of change: in the business model, in the function of sustainability and in the relationship between sustainability and other areas of development. The World Economic Forum has identified that the two greatest risks concern the environment and cybersecurity and, on this front, Enel strategies are directed towards sustainability. This has required a change of direction, shifting the emphasis to investment in renewable energies (which represent about a third of the total in the 2018/2020 Strategic Plan) and focussing on the goal of decarbonisation.

“A sustainable business model is indispensable to support the social and environmental changes that global trends demand. The starting point is not the product but the strategy, and a long term vision, which is also necessary to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals”

– Giulia Genuardi, Head of Sustainability Planning & Performance Management, Enel

Diversity, a driver of change

The perception of sustainability has changed dramatically and it is now the essential reference point for business models and lifestyles. Every country, business or citizen pursuing sustainable goals inevitably develops a different point of view, given the intrinsic cultural differences of each. In this sense, the organisers of the CSR and Social Innovation Fair believe that it is no longer possible to talk of sustainability as an ideal project that is identical for all, but rather as a common path expressed in multiple routes. The participants at the seminar “When diversity is a value,” including Marisa Strangis, Head of People Care & Diversity Management at Enel, agreed. With almost 70,000 employees in over 30 countries, 20% of Enel staff are women (of which 19% are managers). Each day Enel underlines it ongoing commitment to tackling the challenges of diversity and inclusion.

An essential point of reference for the Group is the Diversity & Inclusion policy adopted in 2015, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The policy contains tailored initiatives to promote diversity, by encouraging the development of an inclusive culture where all are called upon to express their individual potential. This is a vision based on the concept of Open Power that not only stimulates individual productivity but also frees up innovative potential that is also useful for the continual evolution of the business. For example, services that support parenthood have been made available, as have programmes encouraging girls to study STEM subjects at university. Projects have been established for disabled colleagues and to improve employees’ work-life balance through approaches like smart-working. Digitalisation, therefore, ends up playing an increasingly strategic role in corporate projects: by widening the scope of communication campaigns, overcoming spatial barriers and encouraging social interaction in a process of continual exchange between environments that appear to be very different.

“Enel’s projects promote the value of diversity as a shared resource for innovation and cover every age range, thereby supporting the generational mix. Over time, this will contribute to making sure that we will no longer have to speak of diversity. Everyone will have learnt to see before them simply the person, with all the wealth of their uniqueness”

– Marisa Strangis, Head of People Care & Diversity Management, Enel

The CSR and Social Innovation Fair 2018 has found the metaphor of travel to be particularly appropriate for describing today’s situation. The linear model of development of old is at a dead end. Following the routes of sustainability, social responsibility and the circular economy, we now have the option of exploring those territories in which Enel is blazing a trail ahead.

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