With the recent entry into force of Legislative Decree 254/2016 concerning the disclosure of information of a non-financial nature and on diversity, in implementation of EU Directive 95/2014, the obligation has arisen for listed companies such as Acea to include specific references to sustainability themes in the Report on operations, or refer to a separate document, starting from next year. Companies must describe their own corporate model, policies, assessment procedures, risks, performance indicators and results in the various sectors of business sustainability in said document; these parts broadly correspond to the Sustainability Report. The lawmakers have thus aimed to give full value to the elements which, beyond and supplementing the economic dimension, contribute towards the creation of business value, as they are considered functional to the proper understanding by the stakeholders of the Group’s performance, results and the impact generated by business activities.
This should be remembered, because we can proudly claim that our Company is fully prepared for the challenges of this fundamental passage. This edition of the Sustainability Report is the nineteenth and for the last six years, the Financial Statements and the Sustainability Report are approved by the Board of Directors in the same meeting and published simultaneously. Therefore, up to now, reporting on sustainability has been on a purely voluntary basis, but no less formalised; the document has always been prepared according to to the highest level of compliance with internationally recognised guidelines (now GRI-G4) and subjected right from the start to verification and review by a specialist external company, with the specific aim of giving maximum validity to the information contained in it.
This choice, which was made some time ago, and is confirmed on an annual basis through regular reporting, is not random. We have always been clearly aware that the role of a multiutility company that has been operating for more than a century and has strong territorial roots, where its presence is vital and proactive, implies all round responsibility, also including social and environmental aspects in terms of its development outlook.
These are exactly the guidelines in terms of value that we have for years included in the Group’s Code of Ethics, and are confirmed by Acea’s membership of the Global Compact Network Italia, in respect of the principles of the “Global compact”, which have enabled the company to identify in the framework of its business operations, described in the Sustainability Report, the advanced elements of Communication on Progress. In addition to filling the function of reporting to the stakeholders, the Sustainability Report has for some time played a support role in terms of internally promoting a developed business model.
We have done more. This year, we decided to define the forthcoming commitments in terms of sustainability, submitting them for approval by the Board of Directors for the first time in our history. For this reason, rather than focusing on illustrating the results and performance for the year, which are described and quantified in detail in this document, we also want to share with you the prospects described in the 2016-2020 Sustainability Plan.
To define this, we have implemented an innovative procedure, which directly and jointly involves the company top management, in order to facilitate a common and shared view capable of focusing on key objectives, also with a clear awareness of the international sustainability developments indicated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the United Nations, on the basis of which the Sustainable Development Strategy of our country is about to be approved.
The five sustainability macro objectives identified and included in the Plan – promoting customer centrality; valorising individuals in change; qualifying the territorial presence and protecting the environment; promoting health and safety throughout the value chain; investing in innovation for sustainability – which are present and described in 26 operating frameworks and about 90 targets to 2020 in the Sustainability Report, and are an indication of the extent to which Acea is now part of this development path. What has emerged is a company involved in the transformation and improvement of customer relations, with challenging service quality targets, which believes in the involvement of its own people, has a strong sense of responsible territorial presence, intended as a hosting context, natural environment and the community, capable of expanding its responsibilities throughout the value chain, which is providing a profound and challenging push towards modernisation and innovation and which understands the close links between innovation and sustainable growth.
Lastly, together with some of the corporate departments, we have identified and included in the Sustainability Plan some “governance level” goals, aimed at better integrating sustainability themes in the governance of business activities, in the conviction that we are not dealing with a target that has been achieved but a developing path which will not allow us to lower our attention threshold. However, we would underline that the operating goals of the Sustainability Plan and the guidelines of the Industrial Plan currently in force already have obvious intersection points, given that both of them interpret the transformation ongoing within the Group and contribute in different ways to the same outlook and sustainable development strategy.
Chairman Catia Tomasetti
Chief Executive Officer Alberto Irace