Biodiversity is investment for the future, for society and for Enel: three good reasons to safeguard and celebrate it on 22 May for World Biodiversity Day, established in 1993 by the United Nations in order to commemorate the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity on 22 May 1992.
The theme selected for the 2017 edition is “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”, an opportunity to reflect on the role that tourism, if developed with respect for habitats, can play in the conservation of natural resources. Tourism can help in mobilizing resources to safeguard ecosystems, in particular those in developing countries where today the majority of the planet’s biodiversity is found almost uncontaminated.
Both biodiversity and tourism relate directly to two of the 17 Sustainable Development Objectives (SDOs) of the UN’s 2030 Agenda dedicated to the protection of ecosystems, forests, territories and animal species both on land and in water (SDGs 14 and 15).
Enel is celebrating Biodiversity Day fully aware that respect for the environment and natural resources is an integral part of our business and a key factor for enabling long-term growth.
A strategic asset
Safeguarding biodiversity is a strategic objective of our environment policy and an integral part of the group’s Environmental Management Systems.
In 2015 we defined a specific policy as a guideline for all of the group’s projects to safeguard biodiversity in the activities of generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy. The policy has been developed in order to contribute to the objectives of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Biodiversity Plan 2011-2020 and the related Aichi Biodiversity Objectives.
Furthermore, for around one year we have been in discussion with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the leading organization in the field of biodiversity conservation, in order to learn about international policies and the best practices applicable to power plants and systems.
This was just one way to reinforce our longstanding commitment to preserving natural resources so that all of our power generation plants, both thermal and renewable, and all the assets for electricity distribution, are built and managed with full respect for ecosystems and their delicate balances.
This commitment, combined with our strategy of creating shared value, aims to further acknowledge the wealth of biodiversity as a boost for sustainable development in the locations in which we operate, from the lunar landscapes of the Atacama in Chile, to the steam vents of the geothermal park in Larderello in Italy, one of the historic sites of Enel Green Power, Italy.
In 2016 the activities conducted by our group to safeguard species and natural habitats were consolidated into 142 projects with an overall investment of 12 million euros covering an area of over 940 thousand hectares.
Interventions are planned by assigning priority to ecosystems, protected areas and species that belong on the “Red List” of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN); territorial specifics that can have a particular value for the local community are also treated with the utmost attention.
The projects involve studies, inventories and plans for monitoring sensitive species, programmes for the reintroduction of native species, reforestation and infrastructure projects, such as the isolation and the substitution of electric cables that are dangerous to birdlife or installations on electricity lines and pylons to aid the nesting of birds of prey and migratory species and the construction of channels for fish in the case of hydroelectric plants.
Among the projects of the Thermal Generation division, is an initiative for the rehabilitation, study, evaluation and landscape planning of the ecosystem of the mangrove lagoon at the Cartagena Power plant in Colombia. Our research at the Huinay Scientific Field Station in Chilean Patagonia, which is supported by our group, won the 2016 Rolex Prize for its study of the marine biology in the adjacent fjord.
Among the initiatives of the Renewables division, in Brazil is the GPS and satellite monitoring programme for the protection of felines that live in the area where the Delfina wind plant is located. In the region of Mato Grosso in the heart of the Amazon jungle, for the hydroelectric system in Apiacás, we have activated a wide-ranging programme to preserve the extremely rich variety of animal and plant species in the area. In Chile a programme has been developed to recover and monitor the flora and fauna at the geothermal power plant in Cerro Pabellón in the Atacama Desert.
These are just a few solid examples of Enel’s commitment to preserving the planet’s resources, resources that are fundamental to contributing to giving life to a new business model for energy and, through our approach based on the creation of shared value, to the implementation of a model of sustainable development, beginning with sustainable development objectives 14 and 15.