The crisis caused by Covid-19 has taught us that, in an increasingly interconnected world, long-lasting development and wellbeing cannot be possible without environmental, economic and social sustainability. This topic was the focus of the second day of ASviS Live: tre passi verso il Festival (Three steps towards the Festival), the online event organised by ASviS – Alleanza Italiana per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development) – as part of the build-up to the Sustainable Development Festival, which this year has been rescheduled to take place from 22 September to 8 October due to the Coronavirus emergency.
Sustainability is essential
“Sustainability is a must if we really want to overcome this crisis”, explained our CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace, speaking at the “Towards a transformative recovery based on resilience and sustainability” event held on 28 May, which focused on the consequences of the Covid-19 emergency for businesses and the economy. “Sustainability is not a cost, a luxury or an adornment”, stressed Starace, “but rather intrinsically embodies resilience, competitiveness and risk reduction. Enel’s plans were already geared towards creating a more resilient, green, competitive and safe energy system, and must be further reinforced”.
For a green and just transition
In order for the energy transition to be truly sustainable it must also be fair and capable of making sure no one is left behind, pointed out the CEO during a panel discussion with other managers from some of Italy’s leading companies. From this perspective, concluded Starace, the policies launched by the European Commission with the establishment of the Just Transition Fund, and amplified with the Recovery Fund announced on 27 May, are steps in the right direction. ASviS spokesperson Enrico Giovannini agreed with this vision: “The response to the crisis must be designed to lead Italy on a pathway of sustainable development from all perspectives, and the excellent proposal put forward by the European Commission offers a concrete opportunity for our country to transform, in line with the goals of the 2030 Agenda”.
Collaboration between national governments will be crucial, emphasised the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, speaking via live link from Brussels. “On 27 May, not only were sufficient funds made available to our countries for reconstruction, but the 2008 paradigm was turned on its head. We are at the dawn of a new era that no longer focuses on rigour but on a spirit of solidarity and on building a European Union that is also united on a political level”. In order not to waste this opportunity for change, warned Sassoli, solidarity must be complemented by “greater responsibility from nations, which must prove able to develop policies that are coherent with the goals that we have set for ourselves with the Green New Deal, digitalisation and the other policies outlined in the 2030 Agenda. Only in this way will we be able to achieve reconciliation in our relationship with the planet”.
The transformation prompted by the crisis
The crisis resulting from the pandemic has already remarkably accelerated change in the way we behave in the workplace and on the market. Our Group is among those that have resorted to smart working the most, pointed out Starace, with around 37,000 employees working remotely out of a total of 70,000 in all of the countries in which we are present. The lockdown has also determined “an incredible change in the way electric energy is consumed”, explained Starace, accelerating the trend that pairs an increase in consumption with greater attention to reducing waste. “In the future, these two forces – the need to consume more energy and the desire to reduce energy consumption – will balance out, but consumption profiles will change significantly. Therefore, it is important that energy systems prepare to respond to this. This is the premise for our efforts to digitalise all of our grids around the world”.
World Environment Day
The need to build a more resilient society will also be the topic of discussion at the final day of ASviS Live on 4 June, “Sustainable environment, health and society: looking for connections”. Aided by experts from various fields, the event offers us an opportunity to better understand the interactions and vulnerabilities of natural, artificial and social environments; it is also the chance to celebrate World Environment Day, with a remote connection to the Living Chapel, an installation created at the Rome Botanical Gardens inspired by the 2030 Agenda and Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si’” (Praise Be to You).
Indeed, for World Environment Day – at its 46th edition on 5 June – a day-long event will be held in live streaming, organised by Corriere della Sera as part of the “Pianeta 2020” initiative, dedicated to environmental issues and the challenge of sustainability. During the day there will be talks, films and presentations by scientists, anthropologists, doctors, economists, managers and business people.
Amongst others, the programme includes speeches be Enel CEO Francesco Starace, European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni and Italian Minister of the Environment Sergio Costa. Topics will revolve around innovation, waste recycling, renewable energies, sustainable mobility and smart cities. The event’s goal is to help us find ways to start again, together, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 emergency, building a new relationship with the environment.