Scenario of reference for ESG aspects (environmental, social, governance)
In the field of sustainability, the signals coming from the institutional, national and international settings indicate the growing importance of a multidimensional logic capable of highlighting the interconnection of social, environmental and economic aspects with which to interpret, assess and guide global priorities integrating regulatory, relational, physical and productive systems.
Worthy of note in this area is the Committee of Sponsoring Organisations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), a global point of reference for enterprise risk management models (ERM) that, in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), issued the first Guide to apply ERM methodology to risks related to social, environmental and governance factors.
In 2018, environmental risks were confirmed as the main global concern both in terms of impact and probability, followed by cybersecurity and privacy due to the speed of ongoing technological development. These aspects become even more complex when it comes to considering their interconnections with potential social and geopolitical risks (Global Risk Report).
The commitments made at the UN with the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) that were then ratified at a national level represent the framework of reference for a transition towards sustainable life models, in relation to which important institutions perform analyses and define their own pathways. Indeed, this was the orientation chosen by the International Energy Authority, for example, which developed its own World Energy Outlook by combining analyses and assessments based on consumption projections generated by demographic and production dynamics, technological-innovative trends and environmental determinants.
Also of note in the year under review was the award of the Nobel prizes for economics to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. The Nobel prize was for sustainability, considering the motivation of the Royal Academy for the choice of the two American scientists, who developed studies on the integration of climate change, technological innovation and macroeconomic analysis, dedicating themselves to °some of the fundamental and most urgent challenges of our time: combining the long-term sustainable growth of the global economy with the well-being of the planet's population".
The European Union has made two important strategic commitments. The first defines a roadmap for strengthening the role of finance in creating an economy that achieves environmental and social objectives, the second represents the new long-term climate strategy of the Union, with the aim of making the European continent the first great global economy with zero climate impact by 2050.
Looking towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as evidenced by recent research of the World Economic Forum, cities will play a decisive role in triangulating the environment, production systems, technological developments and social and demographic dynamics in a sustainable manner. Urban setting will grow, becoming agile and resilient and basing their evolution on big data and analytics, IT systems and interoperable management systems.
Local public services represent the main infrastructure for future smart cities, and the role of Utilities will be crucial in managing water and energy efficiency and savings, the circular economy, the prevention and reduction of pollution and climate-changing emissions. Lastly, it is worth noting the change made by the 2019 Budget Law in Italian Legislative Decree no. 254/2016, which made non-financial reporting mandatory for companies, adding reporting obligations for environmental, social and sustainable governance (ESG) management methods.
Environmental and energy impacts
The natural environment is the scenario where the activities of the Group are performed and is to be preserved with a responsible and efficient use of resources, protecting sources, safeguarding the natural areas where the plants and service networks encroach, mitigating the physical and the external impacts generated in the ecological context of the operating processes.
Consider for example energy generation where the repowering initiatives constantly act to modernise plants also by pursuing the lowest environmental impacts in terms of emissions, or the integrated water service where Acea’s responsible management in resources starts from the provisioning stage, to make it available to people and ends with the commitment to restore the runoff to the receptacle body in the best condition possible.
Finally, the environmental services linked to waste management cannot be overlooked, where the commitment to the ecosystem regards both operating processes, just think about the environmental efficiencies brought in the innovative project of the Ecobelt® WA belts in the waste to energy plant of San Vittore del Lazio, or the transformation of waste with a view to circular economy, as occurs with sludge treatment for water purification.
In keeping with the desire to operate while respecting and protecting the surrounding environment, Acea has already implemented a series of initiatives aimed at better managing the aspects of its activities that have a general impact on the environment and specifically on energy, also thanks to the use of advanced systems and technologies.
management systems: the widespread adoption of environmental and energy management systems is a concrete response on the importance of environmental dynamics for Acea and a managerial tool for continuous improvement in performance.
mobility management: a focus on the environmental impacts of corporate activities also concerns the effects produced by the movements of employees. In this context, the Acea Group has undertaken initiatives to reduce employee travel and to encourage less polluting means of transport.
carbon disclosure project (CDP): Acea publishes its initiatives, for over ten years communicating them to the international CDP organisation, which produces various annual online reports aimed at informing analysts and lenders about the levels achieved by companies in managing risks and opportunities related to the topic of climate change.
green purchases: Acea has set itself the goal of increasingly developing Green Procurement for the relevant product categories included in the PAN (National Action Plan for Green Procurement).
environmental conduct of the supply chain: Acea has committed to assessing its suppliers on an annual basis with regard to the environmental performance of the products/services supplied, and to inform/train contractors and subcontractors regarding the environment.
Acea has included actions to combat climate change in its 2018-2022 Sustainability Plan, which includes both mitigation and adaptation actions and monitors the matter and related EU and international developments (the COP - Conference of the parties and European legislation). Environmental issues related to the array of services provided by the Group are included in the Organisation and Management Model pursuant to Italian Legislative Decree no. 231/01.
Development and technological innovation
Technology represents an area that is both dynamic and critical for Acea. The intense activity of research and development by the producers of technological services and the pervasive application of these technologies in the areas of Acea's operations led in 2018 to a substantial refocusing on the topic of Innovation. The Innovation, Technology & Solutions department, which reports directly to the CEO, was set up with an Organisational Unit dedicated to Innovation that has the task of ensuring an Innovation model for the Group through the adoption of processes and Open Innovation approaches that involve internal and external stakeholders, assigning the new activities to the three pillars of the business plan: Infrastructure, People, Customers. In 2018, innovation initiatives were launched for each of the three pillars, with positive effects on the infrastructure, employees and customers.
In addition, from an Open Innovation perspective, partnerships have been established with Open Fiber for the evolution of networks and the development of innovative services for the city of Rome, and with Huawei for the definition of projects of high technological value to provide advanced and innovative services in Smart and Safe City area.
Development of human capital
To cope with the increasingly rapid changes of our time and transform them into opportunities for development, Acea has decided to focus on the evolution of its corporate culture.
The new Leadership model, values and behaviours guide and contribute to defining an organisational setting that seeks to promote a constant development of human capital, recognised as a fundamental asset for remaining competitive in a changing economic and social context.
Entrepreneurship, teamwork and action are the three pillars upon which the Group's initiatives are built to achieve the goals of the 2018-2022 strategic plan and the sustainability plan.
Among these, the goal of enhancing people for the growth of the Group is broken down and carried out through three areas of activity:
professional growth, training and development of skills through a process that, starting from hiring, uses training and a performance assessment system to align behaviour with the Leadership model and the values of the Acea Group in a constant development of human capital;
involvement of people in the Group's identity through specific initiatives designed to promote employer branding, making Acea increasingly attractive for new talent;
inclusion and organisational well-being, with the launch of initiatives aimed at making work increasingly “smart” and boosting motivation, potential and satisfaction of personnel, as well as the well-being of employees, recognising the strategic value of Diversity, Health and the Safety of workers.
Sustainable management of the supply chain
Aware of the positive contribution that sustainable supply chain management can offer to protecting the environment, Acea is committed to defining purchasing methods that include intrinsic characteristics of the products and aspects of the process that limit environmental impact and foster initiatives aimed at minimising waste, reusing resources and protecting the social aspects involved in the procurement of goods, services and works defined and used to meet its needs.
Indeed, for several years Acea has been using the Minimum Environmental Criteria, in its calls for tenders including even rewarding aspects that are not mandatory but often decisive in ensuring the maximum achievement of the objectives set. Furthermore, it engages in the education of its own resources so that the purchasing choices tend toward goods or services with sustainable characteristics, thus stimulating the development of a specific sensitivity towards these aspects, with the aim of having them always present in supplier selection processes.
Health and safety in the workplace
2018 marks the tenth anniversary of the "Consolidated Law on Safety and Health in the Workplace", published on 9 April 2008, and, while over the past ten years numerous actions have been taken to prevent accidents, the current INAIL data in Italy unfortunately show an increase in the number of accident reports.
Acea carries out constant awareness campaigns on the subject, with the aim of profoundly affecting the widespread dissemination of a culture of safety involving all its employees. It has also implemented an advanced risk assessment model, not to mention control and mitigation measures. Acea has also launched a number of initiatives to raise awareness of and involvement in the issues discussed above with its contractors and sub-contractors, key business partners throughout the entire value chain.
To this end, an intense audit activity carried out at construction sites also contributes, such inspections being an effective tool for verifying the application of safety regulations and procedures with respect to maintenance contracts for networks and plants.