Agenda 2030: what Enel is doing

Agenda 2030: what Enel is doing


It’s a simple question: what are you doing to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined in the UN’s Agenda 2030? This year the first step on the road to the festival (22 May - 7 June) organised by ASviS, the Italian Sustainable Development Alliance of which Enel is a part, is the #2030whatareUdoing awareness campaign.

An initiative designed to involve everyone – organisations, companies, institutions, citizens – by inviting them to share posts about their sustainability projects on social media by 22 May, the day the festival starts. You choose a goal, explain what you did, who the participants were and what results you achieved. You can upload videos, photos or other graphics: the important thing is to illustrate the practical things we are doing in everyday life to help Italy on its path to economic, social and environmental sustainability.


Formal commitment 

As both the only utility company and the only Italian business on the Fortune Top 50 Change the World List, Enel was one of the first global groups to integrate the Agenda 2030 Goals in to its company strategies. A quick look at our 2017-2019 Sustainability Plan proves as actions and targets are listed in order of the SDGs. Enel has made a formal commitment to four of them in particular and has even laid down specific timescales: guaranteeing access to affordable and clean energy (SDG7), fostering decent work and

economic growth (SDG8), supporting quality education (SDG4) and implementing targeted actions to achieved zero emissions generation by 2050. This is for climate action (SDG13).

In terms of its commitment to SDG7, Enel has reached 1.7 million beneficiaries over the last three years, and is aiming to make that number 3 million by 2020, principally in Africa, Asia and South America. By the same year, it should also have reduced emissions from its energy mix by 20% compared to the 2007 figures and achieve zero emissions by 2050. To continue down this path, Enel’s 2018-2020 Strategic Plan includes an €8.3 billion investment in renewables growth, a third of the total €25 billion.   

One of Enel’s responses to SDG9, which targets industry innovation and infrastructure, is a pilot project using V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology to turn electric cars into a battery that can upload power to the grid. With experimental projects already underway in Italy and Europe, this technology allows intelligent integration whereby owners can either take energy or feed it to the grid from their e-car. This exchange also helps stabilise power flows and encourages generation from renewables. 


“Supporting the socio-economic development of the communities we are working in is a competitive factor: it means helping them grow alongside our assets, reducing risk at all stages of the value chain so that we can make the most of opportunities to create shared value”

– Andrea Valcalda, Head of Sustainability, Enel

Another example of excellence is the partnership launched in 2012 between Enel Green Power and Barefoot College, in Rajasthan (India). Through the NGO founded by educator  Bunker Roy, women from remote villages in Central and South America have also learned to assemble and manage solar panels for use in their communities. These bring electricity to places where there is none, or replace highly polluting generators with much more advanced technology that uses renewable sources.  

In Italy, for instance, Enel Cuore launched the "Fare Scuolaproject in line with SDG4, which improved the quality of the educational environment in 60 Italian institutes, stimulating interaction between students, families and the communities in the surrounding areas.    

To guarantee it discusses sustainability in a transparent, measurable and clear manner, Enel has also adopted accountability tools of the likes of the Sustainability Report - Seeding Energies, following the guidelines and standards of the Global Report Initiative (GRI). Thanks to the free Seeding Energies app, the data gathered can also be consulted by anyone on their personal mobile device. The model of integrating the SDGs into Enel strategy was also acknowledged in a recent independent study carried out by KPMG as an example to be followed on a worldwide level.


From diversity to the circular economy 

While the four priority goals are the ones with the tightest timescales, our Group is also tackling the challenges of sustainable development in many of the other areas indicated in Agenda 2030. There are myriad examples of this.

The “Illuminiamo le tavole” voluntary company project created with the Quartieri Tranquilli association is our commitment to SDG2 (zero hunger). Employees donate work time to preparing food parcels which are then delivered to families in need on the outskirts of Milan. 

The official launch in May 2016 on Ventotene of the first system to integrate storage and motors with the aim of providing power to this small island also improved energy supply in a locality cut off from the national grid. The project became, in actual fact, an example to the rest of the Mediterranean – an innovative response to SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure).

Two other major projects also contribute to achieving the same goal. In Savona, Enel made a 55,000 square metre campus sustainable in energy terms by using renewable sources and energy storage systems: the jewel in the crown of the new Living Lab Microgrid is the Smart Energy Building, the first completely self-sufficient building in Italy which is connected to a smart grid that produces zero CO2 emissions. In the Ferrara area, on the other hand, our company is flanking Bonifiche Ferraresi to create Europe’s first smart agricultural district, spanning solar panels, large-scale photovoltaic systems with energy storage capabilities, electric vehicles, and even sensors and remote control systems for precise irrigation to make crops increasingly sustainable and bring environmental impact closer and closer to zero. The project won “Best in Class” at the Sodalitas Social Awards 2017, which are awarded by the Fondazione Sodalitas, Italy’s benchmark business sustainability organisation which has over 100 market-leading companies among its members.

Enel’s Diversity & Inclusion corporate policies also earned us 25th position on the Thomson Reuters Global Diversity and Inclusion List, another important result in terms of SDG5 (gender equality). Thanks to support provided to the “Girls in Motion” initiative, 20 girl ambassadors visited building sites, plants and ops centers of excellence in Italy to talk about the female technical culture.

Linked to SDG11 (sustainable cities and communities) are the initiatives to repurpose dismissed Enel power plants in Italy, offering the local areas new prospects in terms of development and use, including those not directly connected to energy. This circular economy model was underscored in November 2017 by the signing of the “Circular Economy Alliance” which aims to make Italian companies more competitive and sustainable.  

The inauguration in March 2017 of a fish ladder for migratory fish at the Isola Serafini hydroelectric station in the Piacenza area reopened the blue highway of the River Po and created a fish corridor in line with the criteria outlined in SDG14 (life below water). The Priolo Gargallo salt pan project, on the other hand, is a testament to our commitment to SDG15 (life on land): thanks to water control carried out by Enel’s Archimede thermodynamic solar station, the Mediterranean’s flamingos now have a permanent nesting ground.

There can be no such thing as sustainability without integrity and transparency, of course, so we also espouse the principles of SDG16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) through programmes and actions we are implementing with Transparency International Italia.

Achieving the United Nations’ SDGs is a pivotal challenge for the future and everyone needs to be involved to ensure we tackle it effectively. Even the smallest gesture helps. As of now, however, we have the opportunity to share our sustainable intentions with #2030whatareUdoing hashtag. And, most importantly of all, to put them into practice.