Sustainability, from strategy to action

Published on Thursday, 9 March 2017

One out of every two companies in the world has integrated sustainability into their business strategies and 45% of these intend to invest more in it.  

These are some of the findings of the survey 'Seize the change' conducted by the certification body DNV Gl and by Ey Italy, with the support of Gfk Eurisko. The analysis was presented on March 7th, in Milan, during a round table that saw the participation of the Sodalitas Foundation and the representatives of some large corporations, including Bolton Alimentari, Enel, Hera Group, Intesa Sanpaolo and Pedon.

Andrea Valcalda, Head of Sustainability at Enel, was there to share the experience gained by our company on the issue. The Enel manager, together with the other speakers, focussed on how the integration of sustainability into business is changing the strategic models of companies.

You need to innovate to be sustainable," stressed Valcalda. “This is the essence of the Open Power concept: sharing an innovative vision that becomes an integral part of business in all its phases, from strategic planning to business development, from engineering and construction to operations and support services."

In the study, experts from DNV Gl and Ey also analysed the main instruments available to companies to integrate sustainability into business, both as support to the management of ordinary activities and as a guide to redefine strategy. The study highlighted that the 'Shared Value’ approach, namely the creation of shared value for communities and companies, is the winning choice.

As Valcalda recalled, by adopting this model, Enel has redefined its approach to the energy business, "focussing the growth strategy on the objective of total decarbonisation and directing investments to renewables and grid digitalization."

However, Valcalda stressed that timing is the key to make this approach effective: “At Enel, sustainability is involved 'upstream' in development plans, starting from the selection and evaluation of areas and countries." One example is the San Juan de Marcona project, in Peru, in the Nazca area (famous for the so-called the Nazca lines, large geoglyphs traced out in the desert and visible only from above). Here, years before the award of tenders for the construction of wind farms, we started working with the local community, and in particular with the local fishermen, to share the project to consolidate the entire algae fishery chain. It provides for the training of over 130 fishermen on safety issues, the installation of a drying plant and a fish hatchery, in addition to the training of 30 fishermen in the marketing and management of fishing activities. All of these activities will be powered by a micro-grid that will supply sustainable energy to the entire sector. This project has attracted the interest and investments of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), the organization that brings together some of the world’s leading utilities, including Enel.

Valcalda concluded by explaining that the integration of sustainability into business has allowed Enel to include four of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) in the 2017-19 Strategic Plan presented in London in November last year. Overcoming the energy divide and access to sustainable energy for all (SDG 7), the fight against climate change (SDG 13), access to education (SDG 4) and the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and employment in the territories in which we operate (SDG 8) represent an opportunity for development and the creation of value for territories, communities and our shareholders.