Edison commitment in addressing the important objectives declined as SDGs started well before their own definition. The following paper describes Edison effort in pursuing biodiversity preservation (SDGs 14 and 15), not only with projects based in the areas of its own facilities but also involving local stakeholders, and also by mean of education (SDG 4), helping young generation to study and give value to the richness of their own territories.
Edison has a strong presence in Italy, one of the richest Countries in biodiversity in Europe.
In line with its corporate citizenship view and with the results of its materiality analysis, Edison launched a specific project on biodiversity preservation in 2012, mainly with the objective to monitor and mitigate the impact of its operations.
The first project and the following ones translated Edison’s consideration of biodiversity as a key condition in the surroundings of its facilities, particularly in areas with a strong presence of conservation interest species.
In the last years Edison has carried on 3 main projects concerning biodiversity, with different focus and approaches.
In line with the above-mentioned commitment, in 2012, Edison completed a vulnerability assessment of the areas surrounding its production facilities in terms of biodiversity issues.
More than 140 sites were included in the analysis among: thermal power plants, hydro power plants, wind farms, gas onshore facilities.
The assessment method was built on three main indicators based on data coming from official databases:
- Use of soil
- Protected areas
- Distribution of vertebrate species.
The resulting database was then used to develop a ranking of the operating sites and to combine this information into a single biodiversity sensitivity index for each site.
The results of the study allowed focusing the attention primarily on those sites in a potentially more sensitive situation due to their proximity to protected areas or areas of particular natural interest.
The Chievolis hydroelectric power plant, first classified in terms of vulnerability among Edison’s on-land sites, was the object of a deeper assessment. Launched in 2013, the analysis focused on the existing flora and fauna in the surrounding area of the plant.
The results showed that water quality in these two environments was high and the fish life suitable. Moreover, the abundant presence of some protected species in the downstream station, confirmed the good level of preservation of the stream. At the end, in spite of the various human activities, the area under study appeared to feature a high natural level that was reflected in the state of preservation of the habitat and the fauna present in it.
This pilot study has been particularly useful to validate the methodology of analysis for future projects.
Another key project concerned the area assessed in the surrounding of the Campo Hydro power plant. This area, called “Tracciolino”, was used for business purposes and recently donated by Edison to the local community.
The approach adopted on this project moved a step forward, in line with Edison willingness to share competences and knowledge with local stakeholders, and in the spirit of co-creation of value for the local community. In particular, pursuing the objectives of promotion of sustainability culture and awareness raising towards the respect of environmental heritage, Edison involved the local secondary school in an educational project. Two classes - 50 students and their teachers - were trained on the concepts of biodiversity and environment preservation, and showed the value of their own territory. The first output of this project consisted in posters, made by the students, describing biodiversity of their own territory ecosystems.
Edison interest in preserving biodiversity has also involved two off shore facilities, named Vega A and Vega B, in one of the most important project: BioVega.
Regarding the first platform, the company, in collaboration with the experts of the Acitrezza Protected Area “Cyclops Islands” and the University of Catania, implemented a laboratory to study biodiversity called “BioVega A”.
The project started in 2013 to monitor the state of biodiversity in the surroundings of the off-shore platform Vega A, located 12 miles from the coast, about 20 kilometers from the town of Pozzallo (RG).
The study was divided in 5 subsequent macro phases:
Survey of the species on the jacket and in the waters surrounding the platform;
Flora and fauna analysis;
Monitoring of parameters vital for biodiversity;
Installation of special devices capable of creating environments that can host biodiversity;
Installation of special video cameras to show Vega’s biodiversity to everybody.
The first part of the project (phases 1, 2 and 3) was finalized in 2013, showing that the platform, as an off-shore environment, was attractive to many species that would not normally be present in this type of environment. For instance, the presence of the jacket has enabled the development of a typical community of molluscs, algae, crustaceans etc. needed for the colonization of fish species.
While BioVega A was born and developed on an already existing platform, and for this reason focused mainly on evaluation and monitoring activities, “BioVegaB” has been developed on a new site under development, Vega B. In order to add further value to the project, Edison is pursuing a structured stakeholder engagement process with institutional and local actors. BioVega B, strong of the experience of the BioVega A project, has the great advantage of being able to take into account the biodiversity aspects already in the design phase, and considering local stakeholders inputs and opinions.
The desired result of this concrete engagement is a comparison of perspectives with regards to the most relevant (current and prospective) environmental issues, with a focus on biodiversity. The emerging elements will contribute to identify ideas for the development of BioVega and to define some goals in the light of closer cooperation with reference to stakeholders and in accordance with the authorization process.
This project represent Edison’s approach to the concept of shared value and stakeholder engagement, that want to go beyond the top down model of traditional biodiversity monitoring, considering the needs and ideas of the territories in which Edison operates.
The methodology adopted started from a stakeholder mapping, a desk analysis of public news and interviews to Edison people in Siracusa offices. The results of the interviews have shown a strong interest among the entities involved: most respondents expressed their appreciation for the co-design pathway undertaken by Edison, in line with regional objectives, EU objectives and the SDG 14 on biodiversity protection. They also, expressed their interest in pursuing the relationship, in order to structure a possible collaboration for the implementation of the work.
As a result of the consultations, the most addressed declination of the BioVega B project has been of a scientific technical nature. The platform is, in fact, a precious asset since there are no fixed and permanent points of observation of marine phenomena in the Mediterranean linked to biodiversity.
Nowadays, classical methodologies to assess and preserve biodiversity richness are still a key first step in gathering information. However, in the last years Edison’s approach has evolved towards shared value and stakeholder engagement, approaching the territories where it operates, starting from listening their needs and, if possible, co-designing with them solutions and projects.
Relationship channels activated through the shared value approach also allow the dissemination of the culture of sustainability, one of the key steps to create value throughout the territory.