The 2018 Sustainability Report, prepared pursuant to Legislative Decree no. 254/2016 and in accordance with GRI Standard, has a dual purpose. On the one hand, the document that we are presenting here performs the typical task of the annual report, illustrating the performance and the main projects carried out during the year under review for all the non-financial aspects of management and in response to stakeholders’ expectations. On the other hand, it presents forward-looking elements in order to clarify Acea’s sustainability guidelines.
While for the first aspect the indicators envisaged by the reference standards, the historical data aimed at highlighting the trends and a qualitative narrative of the events that characterised the year were used; for the second, the aim was to highlight the steps forward that Acea is making towards the integration of sustainability in the strategy and business management, thanks also to the commitment of the Ethics and Sustainability Committee, which spurs on the entire organisation in this respect. In fact, during 2018 the Sustainability Steering Commitee became fully operational, a collegial body participated by main functions and departments of the holding company. It has been entrusted with the task of supporting us in overseeing the implementation of the 2018-2022 Sustainability Plan, with regard to both governance level guidelines and operational level objectives. We have monitored the progress of our Sustainability Plan, the results of which are also detailed in this Report, noting that, already in the first year, for 78% of its 137 targets specific actions have been carried out.
The Sustainability Steering Commitee, with the aims that inspired its creation, has also promoted the spread of a business culture oriented towards sustainability, scheduling seminars on topics of interest consistent with strategic line, like Climate Change, Performance management and sustainability objectives and Sustainability in the management of business risks. Acea pays particular attention to each of them.
Here we would like to at least mention that during the year, in order to promote an integrated vision and proactive risk management, we launched the Enterprise Risk Management Programme based on a risk analysis and mapping methodology that takes into account the main sustainability issues, and in particular the most relevant issues for Acea and for its stakeholders, in the classification of the sources of risk and in the potential risks generated.
While this document provides extensive information, we would like to recall some elements here with regard to relations with stakeholders, the factors most related to the operational management of 2018 and some emerging evidence. We have noticed some changes in the business context, and Acea is responding, taking advantage of the opportunities. Both the needs and the sensitivity of customers are undergoing a profound transformation that influence and change the interactions with the company.
One trend, for example, is the progressive and marked reduction in the use of traditional contact channels (calls to tollfree numbers dropped by 24% and contacts at branches by 13%), which facilitates the improvement of their levels of performance and the simultaneous increase in the use of digital channels. This is also demonstrated by the constant increase in customers who opt for an electronic bill, at the end of the year totalling 315,600 customers in the energy and water sectors, a trend which, moreover, generates an overall savings of around 39 tonnes of paper per year, benefiting the environment. The increase in the number of “prosumers” connected to our networks was also noted (over 12,400, +10% compared to 2017). These represent an emerging figure, being both energy consumers and producers – incidentally they generated 73% of energy from solar – and their increase furthers our ability to make infrastructure increasingly resilient.
A trend that shows the evolution of customer sensitivity is also seen in the increase in the sale of “green” energy (+16% compared to the previous year), with an incidence of 27.5% on the total energy sold to customers in the free market. This year we have introduced a structured smart working method that makes it easier to reconcile work and family life and has already benefited almost 300 employees. We have signed a Framework Agreement on Industrial Relations that defines a programmatic negotiation path based on an innovative and participatory model. We have invested in training, focusing on the sharing of skills both at a managerial level and in relation to the topic of ageing, enhancing and treasuring the experiential heritage of people. We have diligently continued to commit ourselves to prevention and safety training, seeing a continued downward trend of all accident indicators (-25% of the number of accidents and decreasing indices). The attention to safety has also been shown in a significant way throughout the supply chain, with acareful safety verification on site (11,270 inspections, +27% compared to the previous year). We have increased the application of environmental criteria in procurement, even receiving an award for our commitment (the Social Procurement Award from the Compraverde-Buy Green Forum). With regard to the social aspect, we decided to continue our well-established programme of environmental education – the 2018 edition being called Think Sustainable! – for young people, involving more than 6,900 students and 700 teachers in training courses, and once again this year we have launched an awareness campaign on water conservation, which aims to involve everyone on such key issue.
We have continued to make every effort to upgrade and improve our infrastructures even by applying technological and digital innovation to their management, with an intense focus on prevention.
To give just one example, today, thanks to the actions carried out, we are able to ensure the service continuity in a remote control way in the event of a disaster (Disaster Recovery). In the water sector, activities continued to search for leaks and repair the networks, and in order to secure the water supply for Lazio the foundations were laid for the construction of the second line of the Acquedotto del Peschiera, an infrastructure of exceptional importance. In order to increase the resilience of the water system to extreme events, a plant has been adapted and upgraded and today is able to purify the water of the river Tiber (about 500 l/s) in emergency situations. We have also continued to implement energy efficiency measures, achieving overall savings in the energy and water sectors of 34.5 TJ/year, equal to 3,470 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided.
Finally, in July 2018, we implemented and distributed a new edition of the Code of Ethics, reaffirming Acea’s commitment to conducting a business that respects ethical principles and shared values, taking into account the legitimate interests of the company itself and all stakeholders, including the natural environment. We also confirmed Acea’s participation in Global Compact Network Italy in compliance with the principles of the “Global Compact”,
which are fully consistent with the values that guide our management
The Chief Executive Officer
Stefano Antonio Donnarumma