The Sustainability Report , referring to financial year 2017, with the entry into force of Legislative Decree 254/2016, has taken on the legal importance of compulsory company documentation, substantially equivalent to the Financial Statements, having the same publication time, statutory audit obligation, responsibility of directors and sanctions regime as the latter. We are fully aware that our Company has this year made a distinction between the voluntary and obligatory nature of the social and environmental reporting, based on more than solid foundations.
In fact, it has been exactly twenty years since Acea has published a Sustainability Report on an annual basis, providing for its preparation according to the highest level of compliance with the internationally accredited guidelines.
We have selected the option, provided for by law, to present non-financial information in an independent document and with reference to a specific reporting standard. This is due to the complexity of the managed business, the related extent of qualitative and quantitative information provided, the comparability with previous years, guaranteed by the adopted performance indicators and, last, but not least, due to the vast number of stakeholders for which it is intended. Therefore, this document, in accordance with the law, has been named Sustainability Report 2017 of the Acea Group (Consolidated Non-Financial Statement pursuant to Legislative Decree no. 254/2016, prepared according to GRI Standard) . We have also confirmed Acea’s participation in the Global Compact Network Italia, in accordance with the principles of the “Global Pact” and we have identified, in the Sustainability Report , the elements corresponding to the advanced level of the Communication on Progress .
Twenty years is a lot, even for a Company like Acea, which boasts over a century of business. The long period of time between the first publication of the social and environmental reporting and today, has not only contributed to building a solid foundation, as mentioned above, but has also marked an evolutionary path.
If we look back from the current perspective and imagine the impulse that drove the directors of the time – it was 1999, the year of listing on the stock market – to take the first step, we cannot fail to grasp the sense of challenge.
Furthermore, we cannot but understand that the voluntary choice to enhance the non-financial aspects of the management, monitoring and publicising of social and environmental performance and so-called “intangible” factors, such as intellectual or relational capital, was the result of a forward-looking view and fortunate intuition regarding the importance of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development concepts, which were then strongly supported by Europe.
An intuition capable of grasping the theoretical value of these concepts, as guiding principles and, above all, their profound consonance with the operational reality of a multiutility and the potential repercussions on the governance of the company and its strategic direction.
Acea was, as is, called to manage public utility services, in the water and energy sectors, which are essential to the well-being of the host environment and to the creation of local development opportunities and is, therefore, required to govern its impact on the natural environment and to enter into a relationship with the region, institutions and people. Over the years, the environment sector has been added to the areas of activity.
Currently, said sector also bears the growth prospects inherent to the new paradigm of the circular economy, which drives us towards the future.
The challenge then was seized by all those who, within the last twenty years, have succeeded in responsibility for corporate governance - continuing along the path taken - and the issues of sustainability, increasingly more internally widespread and increasingly urged by the national and international external context, were also a spur for the progressive evolution of the business model, based on the most advanced principles of integrated management.
For our part, this year, we have intended to significantly accelerate this evolutionary path, undertaking, for this purpose, initiatives aimed at integrating sustainability into strategy and operational processes. We have organised multistakeholder focus groups to redefine, by listening to the parties concerned, the most relevant, or “material”, topics, on which we can share and focus our attention. At the same time as preparing the new 2018-2022 Business Plan, we asked the operating departments to update the 2018-2022 Sustainability Plan, taking into account the international developments, in terms of sustainability, specified by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) approved by the UN.
The feedback received was remarkable and the Plan, approved by the Board of Directors and presented in this edition of the Sustainability Report , identified 135 targets to 2022, with objectives closely related to the business strategy, for a total estimated value of approximately €1.3 billion. The feedback introduces issues such as increasing the resilience of infrastructure in relation to climate change, with adaptation and mitigation actions, the contribution towards the circular economy, the experimentation of new technologies, operational processes and infrastructure, including with a view the development of the urban fabric, from a smart city perspective.
In November, we issued the new Sustainability, Quality, Environment, Security and Energy Policy , which states the principles, values and commitments made by the Company, framing them within the context of the pursuit of sustainable development and is an integral part of the Certified Management Systems.
Through the Risk & Compliance Department, we initiated a specific analysis aimed at accompanying the management towards identifying and assessing the risks generated or incurred, in relation to the managed activities, pertaining to the main sustainability issues and, finally, in December, on a governance level, we renamed the Ethics Committee to the Ethics and Sustainability Committee, attributing this body, inter alia , the promotion of the integration of sustainability into the business strategy and culture; the oversight of sustainability issues associated with the exercise of business activities and the dynamics of interaction with stakeholders.
The value created in the path summarised above is therefore returned to stakeholders in the Sustainability Report , but implies the continuity of dialogues and coherent action.
The Chief Executive Officer Stefano Antonio Donnarumma
The Chairman Luca Alfredo Lanzalone