Discover the Acea Group online 2019 Consolidated Report

Scenario of reference for ESG aspects (environmental, social, governance)

Sustainable development

The 2019 sustainability scenario has been subject to evolutionary pressures from public and private institutions both nationally and internationally. Of note, for example, is the new direction given by the European Union with the Action Plan to finance sustainable growth, and subsequently with the Green New Deal, which the Commission chaired by Ursula von der Leyen has placed at the centre of its strategy. The latter, closely related to the objectives of the UN Agenda 2030 (SDG), aims to reconcile the economy with the principles of environmental protection and social inclusion, espousing the paradigm of the circular economy. Making the EU climate-neutral in 2050 and decoupling growth from resource consumption and ensuring a balanced social transition are some of the biggest challenges that can be dealt with also thanks to adequate financial investment. This is in sync with the new policy of the European Investment Bank (EIB), which from 2020 plans to align its activities with the objectives of the Paris climate agreement, and from 2021 to interrupt funding for fossil fuel projects. However, notwithstanding strong positions like those of Europe, at an international level a setback was suffered due to the substantial failure of the UN Climate Conference (COP 25) held in December in Madrid, which postponed some important decisions until 2020, including the definition of the rules for the carbon market.

Confirming the European position, national institutions are oriented towards the cross-cutting integration of sustainability and support for the transition to a circular economy. Regulatory interventions have already produced basic measures such as the climate law decree, then converted into law, which introduces among other things the transformation of the CIPE into CIPESS (Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning and Sustainable Development), legislation on the end of waste and an investment plan for the Italian Green New Deal outlined in the 2020 finance law. These initiatives should facilitate making up for the delays that our country is experiencing in the pursuit of the SDGs despite encouraging signs, as noted in the ASviS 2019 report presented in October to the highest Italian institutional offices.

Another sign of the change under way, in this case coming from the production system, was launched by the Business Roundtable, an association that brings together more than 180 of the largest U.S. companies, which by redefining in its statement the purpose of the companies has unequivocally affirmed their role in the creation of long-term value for the benefit of all stakeholders. Similarly, in Italy great attention was paid to the announcement of the updating of the Code of Self-Regulation for Listed Companies, which will represent a best practice for companies in adopting strategies increasingly oriented towards sustainability: "The primary task of the board of directors is to pursue the company's 'sustainable success', where long-term value creation for the benefit of shareholders is pursued taking into account the interests of other stakeholders".

Taking into account these developments, Acea continues its development by integrating sustainability in its strategies and organisation. In this regard the updates to the Business Plan and the Sustainability Plan for 2019-2022 are particularly worthy of note, with an increase in investments related to sustainability targets of € 400 million, equal to half of the entire amount of new investments, for a total value of investments linked to sustainability aspects over the plan period of € 1.7 billion. An initial sharing of the programme and the main initiatives put in place by the company on sustainable development and innovation with the public and qualified stakeholders was made possible during the year thanks to two important initiatives: Acea Sustainability Day and Acea Innovation Day.


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. One example is energy generation, where repowering initiatives are constant in order to modernise plants including by pursuing lower environmental impacts in terms of emissions, or the integrated water service, where Acea's responsible management starts with the supply phase, making it available to people, and concludes with a commitment to return wastewater to the receiving body in the best possible conditions, and again to the environmental services sector linked to waste management, where the commitment to the ecosystem concerns both operational processes and the transformation of waste in a circular economy, as is the case for the treatment of sewerage sludge.

In keeping with the desire to operate while respecting and protecting the surrounding environment, Acea implemented 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: 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, communicating them to the international CDP organisation, which produces 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 and environmental awareness development of the supply chain: Acea has set itself the objective of increasingly integrating the assessment of environmental aspects through the adoption of CAMs for the supply of compatible product categories. Moreover, it 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.
  • Energy management: using energy management Acea Group promotes the improvement of the energy performance of plants and buildings by implementing best practices to reduce energy consumption and encourage the use of energy from renewable sources.

Acea has included actions to combat climate change in its 2019-2022 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. 231/2001.


Development and technological innovation

The Innovation, Technology & Solutions Function reports directly to the CEO and has the task of ensuring a model of innovation for the Group through the adoption of processes and approaches typical of open innovation, with the involvement of internal and external stakeholders as defined by the Industrial Plan. In this context, the dissemination of a culture of innovation has been encouraged by involving all Group employees in specific initiatives; partnerships have been established at a national and international level with the aim of strengthening Acea's positioning in the innovation ecosystem and identifying new business opportunities; innovative solutions (proof of concept) from start-ups and SMEs have been analysed and tested.


Development of human capital

People are the most important resource and they are given the tools and skills necessary to respond effectively to the challenges of the business during the main stages of corporate life: selection, welcoming, training, rewarding and development.

Entrepreneurship, teamwork and action are the three driving values of the Leadership Model upon which the Group's initiatives are built to achieve the goals of the strategic plan and the sustainability plan. The Human Resources Function works on skills and improving people management and development processes in three different ways:

  • professional development, managerial growth, training and development of skills;
  • involving people in the Group's identity;
  • inclusion and organisational well-being, recognising the strategic value of diversity and workers' health and safety.


Sustainable management of the supply chain

At the service of the community and the public, Acea is fully mindful of the virtuous partnership that can be established with the supply chain. In fact it attributes greater value and reliability to contractors that have certified quality, environmental, safety, energy and social responsibility management systems and provides a self-assessment questionnaire on these issues for the majority of suppliers that register for qualification systems. In terms of green procurement, Acea applies the Minimum Environmental Criteria in its tender specifications and is working to extend this same approach to product categories that are not yet mentioned in the relevant Ministerial Decrees. With the aim of raising awareness and supporting the continuous improvement of the supply chain, Acea also carries out second-party verifications and strict safety controls at construction sites. This brings to light good practices and, at the same time, identifies shared paths towards growth and improvement.


Health and safety in the workplace

Acea works hard to instil a widespread safety culture, involving all its employees and the supply chain. It therefore carries out targeted awareness campaigns addressed both internally and to contractors, directly involving people, in the belief that it is necessary to set up effective tools for the prevention of accidents. For this purpose, it has also implemented an advanced risk assessment model, not to mention control and mitigation measures. Acea's "Vision" of workplace safety – which is the prelude to the preparation of a model of Safety Governance – and the theoretical and practical tools to achieve it have been defined together with top management. The Parent Company set up a Group RSPP Coordination Committee, which meets quarterly in order to, among other things, share the results of safety performance analyses and share experiences and good practices. A special H&S Dashboard was also prepared and has become a shared tool for the reporting of occupational health and safety performance.