Acea: values and contributions to sustainability

Services of public utilities handled by Acea are the main tools of intervention both for the economic development and improvement of the environmental and the social quality of communities and territories. Therefore, sustainability is a core value of Acea’s corporate identity and operational goals which the Group commits to put into effect starting from the definition of its values and congruent conduct, availing itself of company management tools and through the engagement of its stakeholders, until support and direct participation in the main institutional initiatives of sustainable development are oriented.

Aware of the responsibility of its role, the Acea Group has adopted a Code of Ethics, pursuing policies and means suitable for implementing a responsible corporate governance.

TABLE N. 9 - ACEA TOOLS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL RESPONSABILITY

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Acea pays great attention to the institutional, public and private context, where corporate social responsibility and sustainability issues are matters for discussion and exchange of views, so that such topics are further developed and widespread.

To this end, in 2013, two international initiatives have been undertaken which have a relevant impact on corporate social responsibility: reporting on sustainability in company management.

It is the EU-proposed Directive (COM 2013/207) whose objective is the reporting on sustainability and diversity matters when disclosing financial and governance information about the company (see specific box) and the introduction of the guidelines concerning the currently most-qualified sustainability reporting requirement: GRI-G4. These guidelines focus on the need of developing adequate methods and contents in sustainability reports, in order to enable the companies involved to issue up-to-date, consistent (with the current changes in society) reports, as well as to speed up the pace of organisations committed to this topic (for further information see in-depth box).

THE EU PROPOSED DIRECTIVE ON DISCLOSURE OF NON-FINANCIAL AND DIVERSITY INFORMATION 

In April 2013, the European Commission published a proposed Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information within the framework of legal reporting of companies. The diversity matters do not only cover gender aspects but different aspects in the composition of the highest governance bodies. In compliance with EU regulations certain large companies (with higher than 500 employees and with a total turnover higher than 40 million euros or a balance sheet showing a profit over 20 million euros) are required to disclose material information on policies, results and risks concerning key sectors of sustainability: environment and society, human resources and human rights, governance and anti-corruption.

The adoption of this Directive was needed since a better transparency and disclosure of information related to such topics, will benefit not only the internal and external stakeholders but the companies themselves. Capital providers will have a more comprehensive understanding of a company’s results and performances, from which orienting their investment-decision processes in line with their values and conduct; whilst companies will improve their emerging risk analysis, affecting their operating management – i.e., in case of environmental accidents and related costs for damage repair and compensation, interruption of operations, media exposure, litigation with competent authorities. Proceedings of the proposal have already been examined by the entrusted Commissions of the European Parliament. Approval of the final document is envisaged by the European bodies within 2014.

THE GLOBAL REPORTING INITIATIVE NEW GUIDELINES FOR REPORTING ON SUSTAINABILITY: G4 

The guidelines issued and upgraded over the years by the multi-stakeholder international organization, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), are the most qualified standard worldwide for companies’ reporting on sustainability. In 2013, after a complex process of analysis, consultation and engagement of stakeholders, already launched in 2011, GRI issued the last version of the guidelines, called G4, following a tour of presentations that also took place in Italy.

This most recent version shows some further innovations. The “materiality” principle has been deeply analysed: companies are required to better structure systems concerning the stakeholders’ engagement and the identification and processing of relevant matters, in order to determine, in coherence with the company’s context, the point it impacts on sustainable development. Another aspect subject to review is corporate governance, through the introduction of new indicators that cover conflicts of interest, remuneration and diversity policies, significant involvement of decision-makers in sustainability policy. Last but not least, subject to review is the attention given to the mechanisms and fluxes of supply chains, considering that a comprehensive evaluation and view of company sustainability hinges upon the integration of such factors in the organisation’s supply chain.

Companies have until 2015 to start reporting in compliance with the new guidelines G4.