Generating energy, innovation at the service of sustainable development

Published on Friday, 20 May 2016

During the fifth edition of the GRI Global Conference, Enel explained how innovation is a means to foster sustainability and meet the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG’s).

Converting a plastic bottle into a solar lamp. Bringing light to the most remote places on the planet. Creating a shared value chain with local communities. Producing energy by eliminating climate-altering emissions. Generating new energy, fueled by ideas, passion and cooperation, and bringing about tangible fruits: innovation and progress, in harmony with the world around us.

It is by placing Innovation and Sustainability at the basis of business that the Enel Group has decided to ride the wave of the global energy sector transformation and thus revolutionise its growth strategy.

We have brought our open approach to power generation to the fifth edition of the  GRI - Global Conference on “Empowering Sustainable Decisions”, scheduled for May 18th to 20th in Amsterdam..

The conference represents an opportunity to share the concrete data that accompanies this strategy, starting from the two key concepts, Innovation and Sustainability, as part of a single production model. Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel, spoke during the panel discussion “Innovation for Sustainable Development: The role of private sector collaboration”, focusing on the need to think differently, and introducing the concept of 'innovability': “Sustainability and innovation are more than just embedded in the business. They are the business. We aren’t sustainable unless we innovate, and in order to innovate, we have to be sustainable." In order to implement this strategy, Ciorra added, “We need to involve people both outside of our company and outside of the sector, in the form of international networks and greater collaboration”.

Opening up to the outside world and sharing ideas and experiences, is also the goal of our collaboration with GRI (Global Reporting Initiative, an independent international organisation created to help businesses, governments and stakeholders understand and communicate the impact of sustainability on their business).

The objective is to promote the use of sustainability information in business processes, thus allowing companies to integrate sustainability into their growth strategies and into the creation of innovation, therefore strengthening the role of environmental and social governance, as well as business reporting. These tools also contribute to meeting the 17 Millennium Development Goals (SGD's), set by United Nations as part of the Agenda for Sustainable Development. Enel has pledged to achieve four of the goals, including that of ensuring access to affordable, sustainable and modern energy (seventh goal). 

An example of innovability is our partnership with Liter of Light, a non-profit organisation that teaches the most isolated communities how to build solar lamps with recycled electrical products and plastic bottles.

Andrea Valcalda, the Group’s Head of Sustainability, spoke about Enel's commitment to achieve the thirteenth of the 17 SGD’s: the fight against climate change. The objective is part of the energy sector’s current transition phase, in line with the interests of the interviewers.

Thanks to our leadership in the Clean Tech sector, we can contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions, while reducing risks for our investors. Valcalda emphasised that, “a real long-term and shared value creation strategy integrates investors’ and stakeholders’ perspectives, starting from communities.”

The importance of data analysis and sustainability reporting was emphasised by Marina Migliorato, the Group’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Relations. The Annual Sustainability Report, which Enel draws up according to the guidelines developed by GRI over the years, Migliorato explained, “is just one of the ways in which we communicate data on our environmental and social governance,” and it is one of the tools to drive change and transform sustainability into our business.

“The Analysis of Materiality – Head of Sustainability Planning and Performance Management Giulia Genuardi explained intervening in a panel discussion on the last day of the conference – is useful to the company for defining strategies taking into consideration all the important themes of governance, business, social and environmental themes. And also enables the location of important topics for the financial community incorporating the same in the annual report.”

Our partnership with GRI since 2007, aims to promote the integration of sustainability into business strategies and to implement open networks for a new approach to both sustainable development and the achievement of the UN Millennium goals. The fifth edition of the Global Conference welcomed more than 1,100 participants from 77 countries and more than 200 speakers. During the three-day event in Amsterdam, new partnerships were initiated to promote sustainable development and technological innovation.