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Biz & SDGs Experience
Title

Biodiversity protection in Enel: the experience of a multinational group

SDGs Coverage
Year of Publication of the Experience: 2015

Abstract

Enel is fully aware of the value of ecosystems and of their associated services, which is why a great deal in effort has always gone into responsible management of natural resources.

Currently, 129 projects are underway to protect different species and natural habitats, across Europe (83), Latin America (29), United States (12) and Russia (5).

The Group is highly interested in the development of parameters of quantification and valorisation of ecosystem services and, despite these, Enel considers biodiversity to be an intrinsic value of its countries of operation that must be safeguarded and fostered by means of a business model based on the creation of lasting value for both the countries and the communities in which it operates.

The Experience

Protection of biodiversity is one of the most indicative values for measuring the sustainability of a Company. Preservation of ecosystems and species translates in respect for the life, places and symbols of local communities. Ecosystems are also associated with so-called “ecosystem services”. Though these are still difficult to be quantified in economic terms, they bear intrinsic value as they represent the benefits that the communities receive in return for the existence of the ecosystems themselves.

Enel considers biodiversity as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), that revolves around the concept of “Creating Shared Value (CSV)” in order to openly express the vocation of its strategy for the creation of lasting and shared value for communities in which we install out plants and grids.

The Group’s recent internal organisation has made sustainability a founding principle of the organisational and business model. The new “Innovation and Sustainability” Department, which reports directly to the CEO, was created and it works closely with the central business units and in the countries served by the Group to ensure the full integration of sustainability in different points on the value chain, also through innovative business models.

As mainly concerns biodiversity, Enel’s new approach draws experience from its lengthy knowledge of plant installation and maintenance, whether power plants or distribution and transmission lines.

Currently, 129 projects are underway to protect different species and natural habitats, distributed in Europe (83), Latin America (29), United States (12) and Russia (5).

 The business practice for biodiversity that Enel has consolidated throughout the years envisages the environmental impact assessment of any given project on ecosystems and animal and plant species during the pre-feasibility study of the project. Whenever necessary and if the project passes the initial screenings, alternatives having minor impact are evaluated and strategies, actions and modes of implementation are shared with the country of interest.

The projects and work plans arise from mostly voluntary initiatives and/or from the provisions of the authorisation processes. These initiatives cover a wide range of activities such as studies, inventories and monitoring plans of endangered species, programs for the reintroduction of native species and re-foresting.

The interventions are planned by assigning priority to protected areas in relation to ecosystems, and country specificities for species on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources(IUCN) are then treated with utmost attention.

Project classification is centralised, following a classification matrix that also accounts for, aside from the typical environmental parameters (type of species and habitats that are scope of the protection/enhancement project), the scientific aspects of the project, social consequences and area of influence. Therefore, project results are monitored in time, and upon conclusion the information is disclosed to the business units so that it can be used for similar projects.

Enel has recently provided for a Group policy for the respect and protection of biodiversity as integration of its Environmental Policy, which already encompasses biodiversity as one of its 10 strategic goals (see box page 16). The goal is to establish various founding principles and to express a common view on this topic, furthered by the intent to help select the initiatives proposed by the country. This policy also sets out to overcome the logic of compensation as sole possibility of intervention: the impacts must be mitigated at their origin, turning to their appropriate compensation only when the former is impossible.

BOX - ENEL’S BIODIVERSITY POLICY

Enel’s policy in favour of biodiversity has been developed to contribute to the goals of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 2011-2020 Plan for Biodiversity and the associated Aichi targets. Specifically, Enel is committed to:

  • plan all activities that may interfere with species and natural habitats, respecting the principle of mitigation hierarchy, which consists primarily in the commitment to: avoid and prevent the occurrence of negative impacts on biodiversity, and secondly, when impacts can not be avoided, ii) reduce the damage and remedy the effects and, last, iii) offset negative residual impacts;
  • in relation to residual impacts, implement offsetting actions in compliance with the (no net loss of) biodiversity principle and, wherever applicable, with a net positive outcome;
  • conduct Environmental Impact Analyses for each new impact that envisage an assessment of the effects on the biotopes and species of animals and plants so as to avoid all operations in areas of high naturalistic value; such studies also aim to adopt the best solutions to limit the effects on biodiversity;
  • collaborate with local communities, research centres and environmental and national associations to identify the values of biodiversity and develop studies and projects aimed at its protection and valorisation;
  • monitor the efficacy of measures implemented to protect and preserve biodiversity;
  • routinely report their performance in relation to biodiversity.

In consideration of the projects currently in progress, notable mentions go to the initiatives developed in Latin America in collaboration with local communities and bodies of research. The first, in the region of Huinay in Chile, extends approximately 34,000 hectares from the Comau or Leptepu Fjord, in the province of Palena, up to Argentina and constitutes a privileged area in terms of biodiversity. This characteristic has made it a full-fledged research laboratory for a specific science foundation, Fundación San Ignacio del Huinay supported by Enel and its subsidiary Endesa. Active since 1998, the Foundation has contributed to the discovery of 50 new species including one, EndesaTethocyathus, which is the first species to be named after a company.

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The second initiative regards the Fortuna forest reserve, a site of outstanding naturalistic value that extends for about 19,500 hectares near the Pacific coast of Panama. The area is part of the UNESCO “World Biosphere Reserve” network and it is considered among the most important in the world for the wealth of biodiversity.

In Europe, the broad scope of the project for the preservation of wildlife (chamois, Alpine marmot, European lynx, grey wolf, peregrine falcon, golden eagle and salmon trout) in the National Park of High Tatras, one of Slovakia’s most important wildlife areas, has been acknowledged with the European Union’s “Business & Biodiversity Award”.

In Italy, EnelDistribuzione recently concluded its “Save the flyers” LIFE project aimed at the conservation of chiroptera and Red Kits that inhabit the AmiataGrossetano area (Grosseto) and the GoladellaRossa and Frasassi Regional Natural Park. Furthermore, EnelProduzione is committed to the LIFE+ “Aqualife” project up to 2018 with the goal of developing and disseminating the “Aqualife Package”, an innovative and easy to use system of indicators to evaluate the biodiversity condition of groundwater dependent ecosystems. In Lombardy, Enel Green Power takes part in the regional project LIFE+ “Conflupo” in order to restore the longitudinal continuity of the Po River near the hydropower plant of the Serafini Island.

Enel has ventured down a path that has led to many acknowledgements, also in economic terms. Enel is present among the main Indexes of Sustainability (Dow Jones, Carbon Disclosure Project, FSTE4good, STOXX Global ESG Leaders index) and it accounted for 134 socially responsible investors as of December 2014 (117 in 2013) for a total of 5.9% of the Group’s share capital. 

Brandishing this awareness, the Group is constantly committed to the improvement of its social and environmental performance.

In particular, with regard to biodiversity, Enel has a great deal of interest in the development of parameters to quantify and valorise ecosystem services, of which biodiversity constitutes one of the most important values. We are aware of the difficulties that a company traditionally attributes an economic value to these services. While awaiting greater maturity of the scientific debate on these issues, we continue to apply the model of Creating Shared Value, based on the recognition of biodiversity as one of the essential dimensions required to forge a relationship of mutual respect and to create lasting value for the communities in which we install out plants.

ENEL
ENEL is a multinational energy group and one of the world’s main integrated operators in the sector of electricity and gas with focus on Europe and Latin America. The Group operates in over 30 countries in 5 continents. It produces energy with an installed capacity of 89 GW and distributes electricity and gas along a network of approximately 1.9 million kilometres. With a total of 61 million requesting units around the world, Enel boasts the broadest customer range in comparison to its European competitors and it is among the leading electricity companies of Europe in terms of installed capacity and reported EBITDA.
«We are committed to foster a business model based on the creation of lasting value for both the countries and the communities in which we operate.»
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