SDGs and Europe, a new roadmap
The international conference “SDGs, climate and the future of Europe” took place on 31 May, during the ASviS – Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development – Festival in Milan. Representatives from institutions, businesses, academia and civic society debated the important issue of how to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and implement them in Europe. The goal: to create a new roadmap for Europe that is more focused on reaching these challenging targets and implementing the means to do so.
The stage for the event was Milan, a city that is increasingly an example of environmental sustainability and which also hosted the last World Expo whose theme was food and agricultural sustainability. As Giuseppe Sala, the Mayor of Milan, stressed in his welcome speech, the capital of the Lombardy region is today a symbol of innovation and sustainable change.
During the debate, the speakers analysed the results achieved thus far in the field of sustainability and the open challenges still requiring attention, with the intention of creating a package of recommendations on how to effectively integrate the SDGs into European legislation for national and European policy makers. The working group “Europe Ambition 2030” presented its “New narrative for Europe,” an action plan which combines 10 proposals advising how to best integrate the SDGs into European Union policies. The definitive version will be presented to the European Commission, ahead of the preparatory work for the European Council in December and the European Elections in May 2019.
The Enel model for Agenda 2030
The private sector has an essential role to play in putting the United Nations 2030 strategy into practice. Enel has already risen to the challenge, incorporating the two essential pillars of sustainability and innovation into its corporate business model.
Simone Mori, Enel’s Head of European Affairs and a member of the panel on the role of the private sector in sustainable development, illustrated the Group’s strategic vision and its three founding principles: inclusivity, respect for the environment and shared value with the surrounding communities and territories. They provided the basis for Enel’s decision to introduce a new business model which is focused on digitalisation, the development of renewable energy and distributed generation, even in remote areas often off the grid.
“Enel has not stepped back when faced with the challenges inherent in the transformation of the energy sector and the social and environmental implications that characterise this moment in time. On the contrary, it has decided to drive forward with a revolutionary, new paradigm. Enel’s new strategic plan is designed to create sustainable value over the long term, while respecting the environment and guiding the transition and opportunities this brings, without ignoring the social implications”
– Simone Mori, Enel’s Head of European Affairs
In order to provide a tangible contribution to sustainable growth, Enel has set itself measurable objectives for four of the 17 United Nations SDGs. First, in a world where over 1 billion people do not have access to energy, Enel has committed to providing light to 3 million people by 2020 (Goal 7: “affordable and clean energy”). To date, approximately 2 million people have benefitted in rural areas in South America, Africa and Asia.
The Enel Group’s commitment to sustainable development, with around 1,200 projects that affect 9 million people, places it in the front line of the campaign for “climate action” (Goal 13), “decent work and economic growth” (Goal 8) and “quality education” (Goal 4).
More integration, increased sustainability
While Europe has already registered excellent partial results for some of the SDGs, the timeframe for their fulfilment still seems very long. Enrico Giovannini, a spokesperson for ASviS, believes that the only way for the countries of the old continent to overcome the crises that threaten them today and to maintain their leadership in sustainable development is to create greater integration of the policies of individual nations.
“It’s time to rethink Europe, and to follow the guidelines set out in the 2030 Agenda. This is an essential transformation, one that includes greater integration and affects the future for us all and one that must become a common goal for Member States and the institutions of the European Union. Social inequality and environmental imbalances must be tackled with urgency, mobilising businesses, society and the younger generation”
– Enrico Giovannini, ASviS spokesperson
The synergy of the four revolutions
If there is no decisive investment in sustainability, the present consumption levels of environmental and energetic resources will require two planet Earths by 2050.
An “alliance” that builds on the synergies of the four on-going revolutions – digital, environmental, ethical and financial – is needed in order to increase inclusivity and innovation. Sustainable finance, in particular, has been identified as one of the crucial points of the European projects by Pierluigi Stefanini, the ASviS President. Creating grass roots interaction, with models of circular economy and networks of responsible businesses, is key to contrast the image of a Europe dominated by huge monopolies.
The many Italian and international guests at the Milan conference included Vincenzo Boccia, President of Confindustria; Malini Mehra, CEO, GLOBE International; Silvia Ganzerla, Policy Director Eurocities; and Marta Bonifert, Member of Europe Ambition 2030 and the Hungarian Business Leaders Forum. Representing the European Commission was its spokesperson in Italy, Beatrice Covassi, who stated: “The priority now is a change of mentality of lifestyle, and approach. Sustainable development is not an option: it is the only option.”