"People's new awareness on environmental and social responsibility is 'changing the world', it is redefining corporate strategies and 'rewriting business plans'. These words were spoken by Enel Chairman Patrizia Grieco at the international conference "Last call to Europe 2020", held on June 19th within EXPO 2015.
The event, which was promoted by the Sodalitas Foundation, framed the presentation of the Milan Manifesto Enterprise 2020, which has been signed by the 42 partners of CSR Europe, including Enel, to ask companies and governments to support employment, innovation and respect for human rights and to draw attention to and reiterate the commitments towards the European Agenda on Sustainability in the 28 Member States of the Union.
Waste and need are two faces of our times where situations of excess food and resource consumption lie alongside situations of want and deprivation. Food and energy are in many ways mirrored examples of this paradox. Enel's Chairman emphasised the fact that they are a challenge for the construction of a sustainable future for people, populations and the whole world.
Malnutrition and lack of access to electricity go virtually hand-in-hand the same as obesity and energy generation overcapacity. "Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year, an amount that could easily feed 800 million people in the world who are currently malnourished", Patrizia Grieco points out. "A contradiction that is further highlighted by the fact that for each malnourished person, another two are obese or overweight. The same paradox is found in the energy sector: 1.4 billion people still lack access to energy, while in other parts of the world country energy systems are producing to overcapacity".
"Rethinking the current development model in terms of production, consumption, distribution" is a necessity that is made even more urgent by the world's population growth prospects and the resulting increase in food and energy needs. Today, in order to respond to this need, sustainability must become a key principle in personal lifestyle and companies' business models.
Enel's commitment to sustainable development has led to the proposal of an integrated business model that combines market competitiveness and responsibility towards communities and the environment. "Being sustainable today means we must no longer think we are merely passing agents, but rather we should consider that our actions produce consequences on the environment in which we operate that continue in time", Patrizia Grieco said. Listing Enel's activities for the development of smart grids, electric mobility, distributed generation and low-carbon, she added that "there is no sustainability without technological innovation, and vice versa". This is why Enel adopts a dual approach to sustainable development: On the one hand implementing activities "to guide energy transition", by introducing those innovations that at EXPO 2015 feature in the various smart solutions presented by the company. On the other, by promoting projects and initiatives based on a more traditional CSR model, such as the "ENabling ELecricity programme for access to electricity, which has involved more than 2.5 million people in ten Countries around the world".
"Enel's presence at the top of the sustainability indices, its recognition by the markets and the increased presence among its shareholders of socially responsible investors" according to Patrizia Grieco are "the best testimony of the appropriateness of vision on sustainability in which technological innovation is the factor that enables change and development".