Sustainability, companies give green light

Published on Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sustainable development, now there is a signed commitment from the six major Italian companies and finance associations. The Declaration of Intent signed on the 1 June at the Unicredit Pavilion in Milan, at the opening of the Business and Finance 2030: the motor of sustainable development conference marks a historic breakthrough for the country.

The Italian Cooperative Alliance, the Confederation of Italian Farmers, Confcommercio (commerce confederation) and Confindustria (industry confederation), together with the National Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises and the Federation of Insurance and Finance Banks created a common front to change the future development model. It will be more sustainable, inclusive and fair, in order for Italy to reach the 17 goals set by the UN Agenda 2030 as early as possible.

The event is part of the full calendar of events of the Festival of Sustainable Development, which began on 22 May in Naples and ends on 7 June in Rome, after having staged more than 200 events in major Italian cities. The Milan conference was attended by executives from Enel, Unicredit, Unipol and WindTre, sponsors of the Festival organised by Asvis, the largest national network of sustainability organisations, whose Chairman Pierluigi Stefanini, along with spokesman Enrico Giovannini, opened the event at the Unicredit Pavilion.

“The Italian Sustainable Development Alliance will work with the signatory associations to define and implement by 2017 an action plan with tangible objectives that will contribute to the competitiveness of the national production system, thus improving the sustainability and fairness of the Italian model”

– Pierluigi Stefanini, Asvis Chairman

A global vision

The 23 points outlined in the Intent Memorandum state the commitment to inform businesses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda, and their related opportunities, helping to connect businesses with public, private and non-profit players in the sustainable sector. In addition, it promotes ethical and responsible finance, respecting the ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) criteria in the spirit of the Sustainable and responsible Investment Chart of Italian finance, and establishes a working group to raise awareness among regional and local administrations. In particular, it aims to implement promptly a National Strategy for Sustainable Development, along the lines of the National Energy Strategy (SEN) drawn up by the Italian Government. A matter often discussed by the Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti, who spoke in Milan alongside the Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda, who was on a video link. Digitisation, circular economy and global vision are their three watchwords for the country revitalisation.

“The 2030 Agenda sets 17 sustainable goals, but for Italy we need one more: all ministries must coordinate on environmental policies, not just the one for the Environment. Otherwise, the effects on the country might be ineffective, because sustainability belongs to everyone”

– Gian Luca Galletti, Environment Minister

Many recipes, a single result

Several participants in Milan supported a tangible breakthrough, not just on paper. Unicredit Chairman Giuseppe Vita recalled his bank's commitment to supporting key sectors in Italy - including 87,000 companies operating in the tourism sector, to which 3.6 billion euros were delivered, plus 9.7 more for 100,000 agricultural businesses. On the other hand, Asvis spokesman Enrico Giovannini focussed on a revealing data: in 2016, the financial world delivered more than $22 billion that can be classified as responsible investment funds (+ 25% compared to 2015), with 58% from European companies and 19% from US companies. Companies that changed their production model, embracing sustainable procedures and goals, also increased their business by approximately $12 billion. Which means that sustainability is no longer philanthropy, it is necessary for economic revival.

“In the last year, 25.9% of Italy’s green enterprises increased their turnover and hired some 330,000 new employees. This accounts for 43.9% of all recruitments registered in Italy. Being green is worth it, especially when innovation is combined with tradition”

– Ivan Lo Bello, Unioncamere Chairman

According to the National Craftsmanship Society chairman Daniele Vaccarino, this trend no longer regards only small and medium-sized enterprises, but also the so-called ‘micro-enterprises’, those with a turnover of less than 2 million euros.
Evidence of the fact that sustainability is a tangible drive for economy was also found in the data presented by Eric Ezechieli, co-founder of Nativa, the Benefit Corporation that helps companies incorporate sustainable development principles. The 150 Italian companies that converted their business in advance were then able to overcome market crises easily, with a continuous increase of their turnover. From Patagonia to Fratelli Carli, and finally Enel.

Due to the choices it made in Italy ahead of time, rapporteurs repeatedly recommended Enel as the moral model from where inspiration can be taken in order to achieve the goals of the Global Compact, the UN initiative aimed at implementing the principles of sustainability in businesses. In addition to confirming the Global Compact GC Advanced level for human rights, work practices, environment and anti-corruption for six years, the company also showed an excellent performance in the implementation of practices related to transparency and completeness. As a result, interest in its Ethical Investment Funds increased, and the accounted for 8% of its share capital at the end of 2015. Its remarkable effort in the field of electrical mobility was also acknowledged.

“Enel has been among the first companies in Italy to have tools such as the Sustainability Report, whose funds have doubled over the last four years with respect to the total capital, as well as the protocol that requires suppliers to adjust to our sustainable systems”

– Carlo Tamburi, Director-General Enel Italy

Therefore, its 100% green business by 2050 target strengthens Enel's bond with Italy’s major companies, which have committed to achieving the same result following the document signed in Milan. The Festival of Development continues. A new world is actually possible.