In November 2015, A2A issued a plan to develop CSR activities that included a deeper stakeholder engagement activity, the implementation of a Sustainability Policy and the definition of a Sustainability Plan.
To translate the Group’s commitment into concrete actions, A2A leveraged the 17 SDGs to 2030 set by the United Nations.
By aligning company’s goals with the SDGs, embedding them across all functions within the company, A2A demonstrated its commitment to promote a sustainable development.
A2A has always conducted its path to a sustainable business taking into consideration the essential and strong bond with the territory where it operates: the company satisfies all the primary needs of a community - from energy production to waste collection.
In line with the best international practices, in November 2015 the A2A Board of Directors issued a plan to develop CSR activities, reinforcing the central and strategical role of territories and A2A’s responsibility for sustainability. The main objectives of the Program included:
- the growth of “forumAscolto” programme, as an ordinary stakeholder engagement plan implemented by A2A.
The forumAscolto consists in multistakeholder workshops, organized in round tables asked to develop solutions or projects, and aimed at understanding the needs of the communities where A2A operates. The programme started at the beginning of 2015 and the numerous feedbacks collected allowed A2A to fully understand the centrality of climate change and sustainability issues in general in today’s dialogue with stakeholders1.
- the creation of a Group Sustainability Policy for 2030 and the definition of a Sustainability Plan. The latter envisaging objectives that can be quantified over a time frame that is in line with the 2020 Business Plan and which looks to the opportunity offered by the new internationally recognized framework determined by the Agenda 2030 and its 17 SDGs.
Contextually, the Committee for Sustainability and Territory was established as the highest governance body in charge of sustainability issues. It has an advisory and propositional role in assisting the Group’s Board of Directors (B.o.D) in defining guidelines and initiatives relating to the promotion of a strategy and of tools that integrate sustainability into business processes.
The new and increasingly stronger commitment, launched by the Board, gave birth to a process based on a bottom-up and a top-down approach, aiming to look along the entire value chain of the Group and the needs of its stakeholders.
At this stage of the process, top managers and executives of all the Business Units were involved. With two workshops and in depth interviewsessions, they were all called to express their views in relation to the company’s sustainable strategic directions.
In particular, with the first workshop, the pursued aims were: aligning A2A’s priorities with the SDGs and mapping high impact areas.
In this occasion, two questions were brought to the attention of top managers: “Given these SDGs, which is the most important for us? What part of the value chain is involved?”.
The discussion allowed to select the most material SDGs for the company, with goal 11 “Sustainable Cities and Communities” voted by the 92% of participants.
The GOALS selected were then included into 4 CLUSTERS, that currently characterize A2A’s sector of activity:
- Circular Economy: GOALS 6, 8, 12, 15;
- Decarbonization Path: GOALS 7, 11, 13;
- Smartness in grids and services: GOALS 8, 9, 11;
- People Innovation: GOALS 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 17.
After that, participants were called to prioritize the related targets, previously selected.
In the second workshop, for each selected cluster and SDGs included, specific objectives were set, with a long-term, concrete and measurable commitments and related KPIs to 2030.
Moving further, A2A also identified 29 feasible actions with a midterm horizon and with specific KPIs to 2020, in line with the 2016-2020 Business Plan.
The identification of 2030 commitments and objectives, and the consequent declaration of a Sustainability Plan – all coherent with the Industrial Plan 2016-2020 – constituted the most challenging part of the process. These steps radically changed the way to run A2A business for the next years, in term of sharing a new mindset among the employees, managing assets and deal with stakeholders.
The Sustainability Plan and Policy were then communicated both internally and externally. Firstly, they were communicated during the convention for top and middle management. Then, externally, in parallel with the presentation of the 2016-2020 Industrial Plan and at a press meeting called on purpose in July 2016, outlined by the Chairman Giovanni Valotti, the CEO Valerio Camerano, and the President of the Sustainability and Territory Committee.
The real value added of the new Sustainability Policy lies in the quantitative definition of targets to 2030 that the B.o.D itself approved. Indeed, this concrete approach transform the Policy in a steering tool that allows the Company to fully achieve the Mission Statement: “…a more modern multiutility, leader in the environment sector, smart grids and new energy models, more balanced and profitable, able to seize the opportunities that will open up in the Green economy and Smart Cities”.
Moreover, these goals will be achieved also thanks to the integration of an M.b.O. Sustainability program for 100% of managers.
The internalization of sustainability issues within the Business Plan made also a difference among the financial community. Ethical investors, focused on sustainability investing, gave a warm feedback about this new strategy, promoting A2A in their assessments and including it in their indices.
Likewise, communities welcomed this new “glocal” strategy embedded in all territories, in particular through forumAscolto activities, which gave the opportunity to all stakeholder to be included in A2A’s decision-making process. In fact, during the forumAscolto, stakeholders had the chance to propose new ideas/projects to A2A. Exceeding expectations, some of the projects, proposed by stakeholders and coherent with the Business Plan, became so strategic to play a key role in the Group Businesses .
From this experience, the Group learnt that the introduction of SDGs into its Business Strategy enables the Company Group itself seeing things in a different way: new synergies within the company, new ideas, new perspectives, new ways of thinking.
A better knowledge of the impact of environmental-social-governance (ESG) performances on A2A’s value creation is a useful tool to communicate its commitment to stakeholders, highlighting all the efforts and paying attention to the needs of communities and the environment.