Sustainability in business models


Fighting climate change, in particular limiting global warming to two degrees, requires a great common effort. It’s not by chance that the recent COP21 in Paris (the UN conference on climate change) was attended not only by governments across the world but also, for the first time, by big companies like Enel.

Bocconi University and C4C, the World Bank's global partnership program, have organised a workshop in Milan to present the results of three years of research on cooperation among governments, international organisations and companies aimed at fostering a more sustainable economy. The essential question being investigated was the following: how can companies integrate issues relating to sustainability and fighting climate change into their business models, and manage them?

In his opening speech, the Director General of the Italian Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea Francesco La Camera emphasised that “in 2016 no country can aspire to play an international role without a clear sustainability strategy.” In order to win the fight against climate change “specific financial instruments are needed: a few days ago China and the UK set up a common investment fund for sustainability projects.”

The discussion was then animated by speeches delivered by members of the academic world and representatives of international organisations and businesses. Among them Enel’s Head of Sustainability Projects and Practice Sharing Maria Cristina Papetti, who said: “A distinction can no longer be made between sustainability goals and profit targets. Our mission is to create shared value and to innovate through sustainability.”

Maurizio Zollo, Professor in Strategy and Sustainability at Bocconi University concluded the event: “None of the United Nations and COP21 Sustainable Development Goals will be achieved without a strong effort to change and innovate in the private sector. Now this commitment must be facilitated and the related risks reduced. We’ll manage it only through the help of institutions, academics and civil society”.