A difficult year like 2020, dominated by a world health emergency, has catapulted our company into the future, acting as an accelerator of key energy transition related trends: decarbonization, electrification, and digitalization. The most sustainable companies showed the highest levels of flexibility and competitiveness, while maintaining a lower risk profile. It became clear that sustainable progress opens the way to more growth opportunities for companies and greater resilience in the face of sudden disruptions, with a lower risk profle for shareholders.
Within this context, at Enel we see innovation and sustainability as inseparable parts of the same motive force, while preserving the spirit of service and care for the society in which we operate as critical components of our DNA. We are part of the landscape and an essential element in the lives of people, businesses, and society at large. Our journey started out bringing light to homes and enabling development by making electricity available to businesses. We opened up to new technologies, new partnership models, new ways of using energy, thus fully engaging all our stakeholders to create a more sustainable future together.
This approach has allowed us to become the biggest private operator in the renewable energy sector as well as the largest private electricity distribution company with the most advanced level of network digitalization, and to manage the most extensive retail customer base, for energy and gas, of any private company in the world. We generate, distribute, and sell electricity in an ever more sustainable manner, ensuring no one gets left behind. We engage our stakeholders to keep them increasingly in touch with our business, making them an integral part of our sustainable business model.
In such a period of change, with all players involved moving at different speeds and many new variables to contend with, there must be a clear and far-reaching strategic vision as well as planning abilities in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. An enduringly sustainable company creates value because its actions and offering are in line with the future demands of the intrinsically sustainable stakeholders of tomorrow. For this reason we decided to release, for the first time, a 10-year plan clearly describing our long-term vision and the utility company we aim to become in the coming years.
The ongoing decarbonization process means that we will soon start using electricity even in all those sectors that currently rely heavily on fossil fuels, futher cementing our commitment to digitalization and the search for innovative solutions to electrify end uses. At the same time, our physical infrastructure will become increasingly exposed to climate change related phenomena including flooding, drought, scorching heat and severe cold. We aim to take on these challenges by increasing the safety and resilience of our plants and networks so we can continue to guarantee high levels of service quality and reliability for our customers, who are more and more aware that electricity today is the simplest and most natural choice to make a direct personal contribution to a sustainable future.
Innovation and circular economy are emphasized throughout all activities across our value chain, introducing the concept of sustainability starting from the design phase. We will reduce direct CO2 emissions by 80% within 2030 versus 2017 levels, as certified by the Science Based Targets initiative, reaching carbon neutrality within 2050.
The primary actors in our strategy are people, with their innovative skills and digital mindset: they must be given a guarantee of sustainable growth and the adoption of circularity principles. Circularity means enhancing existing potential in new directions by way of reskilling and upskilling programs. A new modus operandi, enhancing relationships, trust, and respect for the talent of each individual, without relaxing our goal-centered focus.
The strategic partners in Enel’s growth process include our suppliers, who have displayed quick reactions and an exceptional ability to reorganize in order to meet demands arising during the year-long pandemic. We view our suppliers as fellow travelers as we set out on a path characterized by increasing levels of research into innovation and sustainability in every aspect of our future collaboration.
The result is that today we are applying sustainability-based thinking to all areas of our business, also in the financial sphere. Our leadership in this area is recognized worldwide thanks also to the Group’s presence in various prestigious ratings, indices, and sustainability rankings.
The key elements include sustainability measurement throughout the entire value chain using specific metrics, and the definition of ever more ambitious goals, not merely to document results achieved, but above all to anticipate decisions and develop a proactive stance. An account of sustainability that not only potrays past events but allows us to travel through time to glimpse the Enel of the future.
By making a joint commitment we can follow a sustainable path that will make our company and surrounding communities more prosperous, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient.
Chief Executive Officer and General Manager