Five years have passed since we first publicly announced our commitment to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2015, we have made significant progress on the road towards sustainability and the SDGs have actually become the lodestar of our strategy. We proceed on our roadmap towards decarbonisation in 2050 without interruption, even hitting some medium-term targets in advance. Last year, we issued the world’s first SDG-linked bond, a course of action that has now been replicated by other companies and acknowledged by the European Central Bank, which, just a few days ago, included SDG-linked bonds in its monetary policy, accepting them also as collateral for Eurosystem credit operations.
It is no surprise therefore that, on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly’s 75th session, we were the only Italian company to participate in the entire programme of the Global Compact (21-23 September).
The integration of the SDGs into finance
The Global Compact was created in 2000 to encourage companies from all over the world to adopt sustainable policies and to publish the results of their actions. We have been a member for ten years as LEAD company, while our CEO Francesco Starace was reappointed to the board for a second term in 2019.
The year of the Global Compact’s 20th anniversary has certainly been unique. The pandemic has entirely revealed the vulnerability of our global development model – as UN Secretary General António Guterres stressed in April, when he urged governments not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to introduce recovery plans in line with the goals of sustainability and decarbonisation. “The climate emergency, just like the Covid-19 pandemic, does not respect national boundaries”, pointed out Guterres as he called on everyone to renew global cooperation.
So at the beginning of the “decade of action”, heading towards the 2030 Agenda’s finish line, it has become a priority to state facts, establish metrics to measure progress, and share results as much as possible. There is no time to lose. It is from this perspective that the new commitments made by our Group at the Global Compact this year should be seen, beginning with the “Statement from Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation”, signed by the CEOs of 1,294 companies from more than 100 countries, to harness the spirit of renewed global cooperation in accordance with the 10 principles of the Global Compact and the 17 SDGs.
Another very important commitment is the signature and launch of the “CFO Principles for Integrated SDGs, Investment and Finance”, defined by the CFO TaskForce to help the integration of the SDGs into finance and the creation of a broader and more efficient market for capital flows and investments in sustainability. The principles cover four areas: the impact and evaluation of SDGs, their integration into strategies and investments, the integration of the SDGs into corporate finance, and the integrated communication and reporting concerning the SDGs.
“The UNGC CFO Principles for Integrated SDG Investments and Finance”, explained Enel CFO Alberto De Paoli, who is also Co-chair of the CFO Taskforce, “represent a solid first step to guide companies in the adoption of credible finance strategies that fully integrate sustainability towards the achievement of SDGs”.
The opportunity for a “clean” recovery
Exactly one year ago, our Group joined the Business Ambition for 1.5° campaign, which brings together almost 300 large companies (with a total market capitalisation of approximately 3.6 trillion dollars) that share ambitious strategies to contain global warming within 1.5 °C, as advocated by the Intergovernmental Group on Climate Change.
“I am urging companies to do more to make their voices heard in the fight against climate change”, explained Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Climate Action, during the panel dedicated to the issue, in which Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace also took park.
Governments will be assigning trillions of dollars for the post-pandemic economic recovery and it is therefore crucial that these investments go in the direction of sustainability. This opportunity must not to be missed. Starace praised the “new” European Commission for its change of tempo in the fight against climate change and the decision to raise decarbonisation targets, from a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to a more ambitious 55%, which corresponds to a doubling of production from renewables over ten years.
Enel’s CEO reiterated the goal to decarbonise our energy mix by 2050, but also mentioned intermediate goals: producing more electricity from renewables than from fossil fuels – a target we reached in 2019 – and increasing the share of zero-emission generation to 68% by 2022. According to Starace, achieving these targets not only is possible but puts us on a road that has actually proven convenient in economic terms – benefitting both the planet and our investors.
This strategy was praised by Ahmed Badr, Director of Project Facilitation and Support at IRENA (International renewable energy agency), who underlined the potential of investing in clean energy for the economic recovery after the crisis caused by the pandemic. His message was shared by Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All, according to whom the recovery is a unique opportunity to accelerate green investments, immediately create new jobs and ensure a just energy transition that leaves no one behind. A way for everyone to restart and, more importantly, to restart better than before.