Agenda 2030: for a sustainable Europe

Published on Monday, 15 January 2018

The announcement in November 2016 of the formation of a multi-stakeholder European platform to support the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been followed up by the first meeting of the high-level group. The inaugural gathering took place in Brussels on 10 January 2018 and was attended by the EU Commission’s first Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

The group also includes Enel CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace, who is in fact the only Italian member and one of just two private sector representatives. The rest of the high-level group comprises representatives of European and international institutions, NGOs, professional and union associations, and members of the scientific community.

The 30 members were selected for their skills and experience regarding one or more of the 17 Goals. Their task is to direct and support European Commission policies in the implementation of the UN’s Agenda 2030. The latter was the central focus of the “Next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability” (November 2016) memo, in which the EU expressed its commitment to integrating the SDGs into European policy. The platform looks set to become a forum for comparing best practices on a local, regional, national and European level, and recording progress made.

“Ensuring the sustainability of the European social and economic model is a clear responsibility for all Europeans. We owe it to the future generations of the Union’s citizens and the rest of the world to show that the sustainable growth path is possible for all the world’s societies,” explained Enel CEO Francesco Starace. “Enel’s commitment to sustainable development is an integral part of its business strategy and I am proud to represent both the Group and the Italian private sector.”

Our Group’s inclusion in the European platform did not come about by chance. We were one of the first companies in the world to integrate the UN’s sustainable development goals into our corporate policies. In the last 2017-2019 Sustainability Report, both actions and targets were listed to reflect the order of the 17 SDGs. We made a formal commitment to four of the 17 goals in particular: ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy (SDG 7), support for inclusive and equitable quality education (SDG 4), promotion of employment and inclusive economic growth (SDG 8) and implementing actions to achieve decarbonisation by 2050 (SDG 13).

The launch of the European platform was given something of a preview in the presentation in Brussels on May 22 last of CSR Europe’s White Paper. This featured a preface by Francesco Starace. According to the white paper, the UN SDGs agenda 2030 could well be an opportunity for a new narrative for Europe: the SDGs not only provide a shared framework for communication between the public and private sectors, as well as the scientific community, citizens and NGOs, but they also offer Europe a prime opportunity to support a sustainable and inclusive growth and promote confidence in the Union. Another way of combating Euroscepticism.