The guide to sustainable development

Published on Thursday, 6 April 2017

The achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda could boost the global economy by generating a market value of about USD 12 trillion a year, from now to 2030, with the creation of 380 million jobs.

This is one of the results of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission reported in the ‘CEO Guide to the SDGs’ that was presented at the 2017 Liaison Delegate Meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the network that brings together 200 companies committed to promoting sustainable development models around the world, that was held March 27 to 30.

The guide focuses on the business opportunities that companies can seize by integrating the achievement of the SDGs into their industrial strategies, placing particular emphasis on four economic sectors, including energy and materials, with an estimated potential of USD 4.3 trillion by 2030, and cities and urban mobility, with a potential of USD 3.7 trillion.

The meeting in Montreux was also attended by our company—among the large utilities belonging to the WBCSD—with the participation of Andrea Valcalda, Head of Sustainability at Enel, who was invited to speak at the presentation workshop for the “CEO Guide to SDGs.”

“We illustrated that already in September 2015, at the time of the launch of the SDGs, Enel had set four of the sustainable development goals as priorities, thus making a formal commitment with quantitative targets. This vision has been further developed in the meantime through a constant alignment effort with our business, so much so that our commitment to the SDGs was among our strategic lines of action in November last year when we presented the 2017-2019 Plan to the financial community. Progress made in our commitments has been reported accordingly together with the economic and financial results of the 2016 annual report. This clearly testifies to the fact that the SDGs are now part and parcel of Enel’s industrial strategy.”

As Valcalda noted, the SDGs are “a great opportunity: a beacon to guide the future development of Enel and a platform for growth.”

The most obvious example for a utility is SDG7 on access to energy: working to overcome the energy divide by providing secure and sustainable energy at fair prices is a clear development opportunity, “to the extent that we are able to adapt our business model, developing innovative solutions,” stressed the Enel manager. A similar reasoning applies to SDG4 and SDG8 on access to education and to the economic growth of local communities. “Supporting the socio-economic development of the communities in which we operate is a competitive factor because it means making them grow together with our assets, reducing the risks at all stages of the value chain to seize opportunities for creating shared value.”

At the 2017 Liaison Delegate Meeting, Enel’s Head of Sustainability also participated in a technical meeting on the world of utilities, sharing Enel’s pioneering experience in the “certification” of decarbonisation through the Science Based Targets methodology.