Energy, development, education: creating measurable shared value

Energy, development, education: creating measurable shared value

Through its sustainability projects, Enel contributes to the social and economic growth of local areas, from expanding infrastructures to establishing training programmes and inclusion initiatives. The progress made shows our commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helps create opportunities for emerging businesses.


When you cannot measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, it is only the beginning of knowledge, explained Lord Kelvin, one of the fathers of modern physics. This is true not only in the case of science, but also when it comes to data regarding the operations of a large industrial group. And it is especially true in terms of data on sustainability, which lies at the heart of our corporate strategy and on which we try to develop tangible knowledge.

Operating in a world of constant change and interdependency is one of the greatest challenges that multinationals face today. Searching for shared value for the company and its stakeholders provides an opportunity both to encourage competitiveness and create long-term social value.

One of the pillars of Enel’s Strategic Plan is the creation of responsible relationships with local communities. Enel is committed to respecting the rights of communities and to contributing to their economic and social progress. In this way it can engage on a daily basis with a wide range of stakeholders, develop new strategies, innovate in processes in order to scale up the solutions adopted in the countries where it operates.

Enel implemented 1,210 sustainability projects in 2017 (a 30% increase on the previous year) and these directly benefited 9.4 million people: over 50% more than in 2016. These numbers speak for themselves, showing our consistent commitment to growing business in a sustainable manner that creates a positive and measurable impact in the regions where we are present.

These projects are mainly carried out through partnerships (over 600 in 2017) with international and local organisations to promote the development of local areas through innovative and tailored actions. It is an “Open Innovability” approach in which sustainability, innovation and openness to dialogue are at the heart of relations with partners.


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

We have adopted the categories created in 2015 by the United Nations with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. This is in order to catalogue our actions for sustainability. 

We are particularly committed to specific goals, with precise targets and timelines. SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy is relevant to our core activity of providing clean energy and making it accessible to the greatest number of people possible in the most sustainable of ways (our target is to reach 3 million people mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America). SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth for us means supporting social economic development and creating jobs in the places and countries where we operate (our target 3 million people, and we have already increased it twice). In working towards SDG 4 – Quality Education, we concentrate on encouraging access to education, especially in emerging countries: the education of young people is the basis for more equitable and sustainable development – and a better future – for everyone. "Quality Education" means activating initiatives that promote inclusive and innovative school environments (Our target is to reach 800,000 people by 2020 and that means doubling our initial commitment).


SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

We have set up various projects to provide clean, accessible energy, and these have (as of 31 December 2017) reached approximately 1.7 million beneficiaries in those countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America where Enel has made a specific commitment. The first step is to facilitate access to electricity: considering that over 1 billion people in the world, especially in developing countries and isolated areas, go without it. Thanks to decentralisation and training, access to modern energy services can be guaranteed, energy efficiency can be improved and the use of renewable resources increased. To do this, we implemented rural electrification projects (in Alta Guajira in Colombia and the El Médano community mini-grid in Chile). We have joined forces with Liter of Light, a strategic partner with whom we teach the community to make small solar plants out of plastic bottles and other recycled materials: this is a way to electrify rural areas and take care of the environment and climate, while also reinforcing the community’s capacity building. In this way we can promote the scalability of best practices and the creation of long-term shared value.

As for the economic sustainability of energy, Enel has helped to improve the situation in vulnerable areas. Some families in the Ferentari district of Bucharest, for example, are living in difficult socio-economic conditions. Here we used an approach learnt in Brazil which consists of a series of initiatives that bring together social services, education projects and safeguarding of the environmental conditions, in order to improve the quality of life for residents. This programme enabled us to reduce the company’s economic losses while increasing the loyalty of clients in the area and bolstering relationships within the community. The initiative was later adopted in another region of Romania, Valea Jiului, which was previously a mining area.

Energy efficiency is key to long-term sustainable business and in this respect we are active on many fronts: from working to promote awareness in the companies that we partner with in Spain to the incentives offered in Peru for the use of electricity-efficient appliances.

A good understanding of energy use on the part of the general population is essential to sustainable development. For this reason we organise awareness-raising events at our power plants throughout the world, (global projects such as Open Plants and Play Energy) and more. In Argentina, we meet clients to provide information on the economic aspects and responsible use of energy, while in Italy we hold informational seminars for the most vulnerable groups in order to explain how to read the “transparent” full-information invoices.


SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Approximately 1.5 million people have benefited (according to data from 2017) from our social development and employment projects. These include the development of fishing near our thermo-electric plant in Civitavecchia, Italy and the introduction of industrial techniques for the processing of nuts to the Pehuenche community which lives near the Pangue and Ralco hydroelectric plants in Chile.

Social and environmental sustainability meet in our circular economy initiatives, such as the furniture production projects in various countries where Enel has a presence (in North America, Latin America and Africa) that use recycled materials (Wood waste recycling with a social purpose). In Colombia, we support employment with a people-centred “Sirolli” approach, to promote their ideas, passions and resources. This is in line with our “What’s your Power?” campaign.


SDG 4: Quality education

Our education and training projects benefited 600,000 people in 2017. We offer scholarships in various countries (Argentina, Chile, Colombia and United States) to facilitate access to education (from primary schools to professional institutes) and we also contribute to the training of teachers with innovative didactic methods in Colombia.

We not only take care of people, we also think about infrastructure: we installed a photovoltaic plant in a primary school in Peru to guarantee the electricity supply and support a circular economy programme in Romania for the reuse of computers no longer needed by the company, thereby also creating opportunities for our social partners and local NGOs.

In order to help reduce social inequality in Argentina, we support a school attended by foreign students who are struggling financially: we made furniture for the refectory from recycled materials in order to create a sustainable environment. In South Africa, we work with a local NGO to ensure that unused quality food is distributed to schoolchildren.

We are involved in a vast range of different types of project all over the globe. They all work to bring together sustainability and innovation as part of a strategic plan that unites all stakeholders in a virtuous ecosystem. The aim is to create long-term shared value and to make tangible plans to reach the 2030 Agenda goal of a sustainable future for all. The numbers prove that it can be done.