The ASviS festival: We’re taking action, sustainable development can’t wait
“Put it in your agenda. We’re taking action.” This declaration of intent was used to kick off this year’s Sustainable Development Festival, in its fifth edition and organized by the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS), a network of more than 300 Italian organizations that have come together to promote the values of environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
The phrase “Put it in your Agenda” contains an obvious reference to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, the global guide for sustainable development. But it is also a call to arms: ASviS and its partners, including our Group, are taking action to do their part.
The key words of the Festival this year are recovery and inclusion, inviting civil society to continue its efforts, as ASviS President Marcella Mallen explained while presenting the Festival at the press conference on September 23 in the RAI studios on Via Asiago in Rome.
Speaking at the press conference, Carlo Tamburi, Enel’s Head of Country Italy, appealed to everyone to take responsibility for sustainability: “In order to achieve a breakthrough, we need everybody to be aware of electric mobility, energy efficiency and the circular economy.”
The Sustainable Development Festival 2021
As in previous editions, the Festival lasted for 17 days (from September 28 to October 14), just like the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
This year’s edition, however, is a special one – in particular, because it took place very close to several events of international importance: the G20 summit hosted by Italy and which took place in Rome on October 30 and 31; COP26 in Glasgow on the topic of climate change, organized in collaboration with Italy, which will host some preliminary events in Milan; and the Dubai Expo, which opened on October 1 and whose main theme is creating a better future (ASviS is a scientific partner at the Italian pavilion).
The Festival involved more than 500 events, including 18 of national importance, all across the country but with a “home base” at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, which was the venue for various events including three involving the ASviS Secretariat. These were: the opening on September 28 with the participation of our Chairman Michele Crisostomo, dedicated for the first time to the presentation of the ASviS annual Report on the Sustainable Development Goals; the central event on October 7, focused on Italy’s commitment to a sustainable and resilient recovery; and the closing event on October 14, “Italy 2030, a country on the road to sustainable development”.
While the Festival took place in hybrid form – a mixture of in-person events and others that were live-streamed, in full compliance with the current health and safety regulations – it was also an example of sustainability, both from an environmental perspective (55 trees were planted in collaboration with the association Treedom to compensate the quantity of carbon dioxide emitted by the main events), and also from a perspective of social inclusion: the hearing impaired were able follow all the events thanks to a simultaneous sign language interpretation service.
We’re not panicking, we’re taking action: our commitment
For years, sustainability has been at the core of our business strategy. Not only do we adhere to the principles and guidelines of the 2030 Agenda, we have also made formal commitments to the United Nations to achieve certain targets concerning the SDGs more directly related to our activities: SDG 7 (Clean and accessible energy), SDG 9 (Innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (Climate action).
Moreover, we have made indirect commitments concerning SDG 4 (Quality education) and SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth).
So it was natural for us to support ASviS right from the very first edition of the Festival, as Enel’s Head of Sustainability Italy and Managing Director of Enel Cuore, Filippo Rodriguez, pointed out.
The circular economy plays a key role in achieving the SDGs and creating a business that is truly sustainable. This is an approach that we’re adopting through technological innovation and with the application of rigorous metrics, as Fernanda Panvini, Head of Circular Economy Italy, emphasized in her message.
The Circular Economy and climate change
This topic was at the heart of the event “The Circular Economy and Mitigating Climate Change,” held on September 24. The meeting, which involved Fabrizio Iaccarino, our Head of Sustainability and Institutional Affairs, was an opportunity to present the third of four Dossiers by the Circular Economy Alliance, the association founded in 2017 by a number of companies including our Group.
First and foremost, the Dossier examines the current state of the art and the future prospects of climate change mitigation, and then analyzes the tools and opportunities in terms of the circular economy, before finally outlining strategic proposals of both a sectorial and transversal nature.
The ASviS report: Italy has to move faster
The official opening of the Festival took place on September 28 in Rome with the event “Italy and the Sustainable Development Goals”. The central topic of this first meeting – which saw the participation of Enrico Giovannini, co-founder of ASviS and now Minister of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility, and our Chairman Michele Crisostomo – was the presentation of the ASviS annual Report on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The study analyzes the situation in Italy with respect to the achievement of the 17 SDGs, pinpointing any delays in various sectors, above all in social and economic areas, but also sending a message of hope: with renewed effort and the right amount of acceleration, we are still in time to achieve the goals. Environmental and social factors cannot wait any longer but must be integrated immediately into our economic recovery: all the sustainability goals should be considered together, because they all form part of a single scenario for the future as well as a shared agenda.
Speaking at the round table, the Chairman emphasized that a just and inclusive transition for people cannot ignore the issue of gender equality. As a Group, we are strongly committed to eliminating the existing gap, for example through projects that encourage girls and young women to study STEM subjects, providing specific training programs.
Crisostomo also reiterated that, in order to harness the full potential of sustainable development, and in particular the opportunities of the energy transition, it is necessary to overcome the bureaucratic and administrative complications that are currently slowing down progress.
The discussions with the other members of the panel revealed how the business world has now embarked upon the right course of action. Many companies, in fact, are integrating sustainability into their own strategies, and some have followed our example of issuing SDG-linked bonds that, as our Chairman explained, “become very efficient: almost like active policy tools working towards sustainability.”
Climate and energy: the energy transition in action
Among the events that characterized the Sustainable Development Festival was the meeting on Friday October 1, “Beyond fossil fuels: what Italy needs to do to achieve -55% by 2030,” which focused on SDG 7 (Clean and accessible energy) and SDG 13 (Climate action). These two Sustainable Development Goals are the subject of direct commitments made by our Group and are also the two issues that are most closely linked to our business.
During the event, which involved experts from the sector, representatives from academic institutions and public authorities, there was a particular emphasis on the need to keep ambitions high in order to achieve these two goals in the medium and long term, aiming in particular at reducing CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieving complete decarbonization by 2050. Along with the current state of the situation in Italy, this was, in fact, the focus of the speech by Daniele Agostini, our Head of Energy & Climate Policies. Agostini pointed out that the Group is at the forefront in driving the energy transition in Italy. Our approach, he explained, is determined but always open: “We are geared towards the future, providing technological solutions that are already mature, working with governments to develop effective climate policies, creating synergies with other actors in industrial sectors, and fostering open dialogue with all our stakeholders.”
In this context, he concluded, “electrification in the coming decade will be crucial for the decarbonization of national energy consumption. It will have to penetrate all sectors, from construction to transport, enabling Italy to look to the future with serenity and determination.”