Businesses as ambassadors of sustainability

Published on Monday, 7 October 2019

“We are a company that operates right along the entire value chain in a key environment in the energy transition. We are using a sustainable business model to reduce emissions by focusing on renewables, strengthening infrastructure to provide greater access to energy, innovating and making cities more sustainable, resilient and circular”

– Giulia Genuardi, Head of Sustainability Planning & Performance Management

Partnerships for social innovation

The subject of innovability also cropped up as part of the round table discussion “Innovation as the driver of sustainability in which Maria Cristina Papetti took part. “In our strategy,” she explained, “one key element in sustainability-focused innovation is partnerships. We have struck up over 800 partnerships across the world with startups, social enterprises, research centres, universities and NGOs which are extremely active on the ground and are thus key allies in helping us to understand how we can operate on a local level.” A good example of this virtuous cycle of collaboration was the creation of the only geothermal plant in Latin America, which is run by Enel in Chile’s Atacama desert, one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. “First and foremost,” said Papetti, “we realised that the local people could start up small businesses to provide services to the tradesmen on the building site and we provided them with training to do that. They started up transport companies, laundries, catering kitchens and then, once the work was completed, continued to work for other building sites, some independently, because the Atacama Desert is also a major tourist destination.” 

“Creating a renewable energy plant has both a social and environmental impact. So we committed to developing the concept of the sustainable construction site which, from the design phase onwards, takes into account the specific context and problems in the area in question”

– Maria Cristina Papetti, Head of CSV Sustainability Projects & Practice Sharing

In short, a group’s business purpose can have a positive impact from a financial perspective in addition to positive, tangible knock-on effects for both the environment and local communities. But none of this would be possible without the contribution, conviction and concrete action of people at all levels.

This message emerged very strongly in the two days of the Milan event during which the organisers urged all participants to become “sustainability ambassadors”. How? Simply by making five practical commitments: to eliminate single-use plastic, to reduce food waste, to repair, gift or sell but not simply bin, to limit car use, to break down walls of all kinds, including cultural barriers. Try it because if you do, it will mean that each of us in our own small way is taking a practical step towards creating a future that is more environmentally friendly and more human friendly.

This is the same goal that Enel X and Enel Green Power are also working towards. The two companies were represented at the Fair by Marco Gazzino and Giovanni Tula, Heads of Innovability at Enel X and EGP respectively. During the seminars on October 2, they also shared the Group’s commitment to supporting sustainable evolution of the world’s cities through Enel X’s Circular Economy Boosting Programme, and also the growth of renewables by showcasing EGP’s most innovative projects.

Responsible business communication

At the end of the two-day event, Enel was declared joint winner of the In-house Communication category of the 2019 Areté Prize for Responsible Business Communication for its corporate volunteering programme.

The initiative was launched last March with a highly engaging communications campaign aimed at Enel staff in Italy. In the first six months, more than 600 of our people took part in 20 days of volunteer work across the nation. But over 1,800 applied to take part and 20 suggestions for possible volunteering activities were received through the project’s dedicated innovative online platform.

This year the experience was staged with four not-for-profit organisations: Legambiente, Marevivo, Moige and Quartieri Tranquilli. Over the course of the programme, the volunteers have been actively involved in urban and coastal clean-up operations, as well as taking part in cyber-bullying awareness-raising activities in schools. The "Illuminiamo le tavole" (Lighting Up Tables) project helped families in need from the Milan suburbs by collecting and then delivering foodstuffs using company e-vehicles. 

“We have created and promoted a corporate volunteering model to make our contribution to protecting the environment and to foster social sustainability. This is part of the direction we have chosen to pursue in order to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is an opportunity to provide responsible support to the communities we operate in. We are confident that this is just the beginning of a great story that we will keep telling in the coming years”

– Filippo Rodriguez, Head of Sustainability Italy

Business purpose, innovability, partnership and corporate volunteering are all part of our inclusive revolution for a sustainable transition that leaves no one behind.

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