Our relationship with the Institutions is a fundamental aspect of our business, bearing in mind that our company provides essential public services throughout the territory, the majority of which are subject to regulation.
Acea represents one of the territory's strategic infrastructural assets and interacts with the Public Administrations to contribute towards the higher needs of public interest, for example in terms of water, by activating the Emergency Management Plans agreed with the local Institutions. Emerging issues include monitoring the cyber threat to the IT networks pertaining to services of general interest and, in this area, Acea is permanently involved in the work of the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development, the Network and Information Security (NIS) Authority of the Italian Ministry of the Environment and the National Computer Crime Centre for Critical Infrastructure Protection (CNAIPIC) of the Italian Ministry of the Interior. Moreover, in 2019 we subscribed to the Italian platform ICESP (Italian Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform) coordinated by ENEA with a view to promoting a domestic approach to the circular economy.
Regarding the matter of circular economy, Acea has subscribed to the Italian Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ICESP) coordinated by ENEA, with a view to promoting a domestic approach to the circular economy (Italian way for circular economy) via the involvement of stakeholders engaged in this respect and, together with another 13 companies and research centres, has signed the Network Contract to set up the first Italian Industrial Research and Development Centre (AIRES): a network of companies, institutions and technology consortia committed to the development of circular economy and environmental sustainability.
Relations and synergies with universities, research entities, representative organisations, professional associations, etc. are maintained assiduously and transparently, in observance of roles and purposes.
In the world of multi-utilitities, we stand out for the human and relation aspect of our services. We organise specific initiatives to involve our staff and encourage them to work to the best of their ability with a view to creating first and foremost a solid company culture.
We involve our people in every aspect of our work and pay close attention to issues concerning health and safety, training, life-work balance and equal opportunities.
We involve our employees in every aspect of our work and pay close attention to issues concerning health and safety, training, life-work balance and equal opportunities.We are aware that improvement depends first and foremost on our employees' applied skills and have created a Model of Execution, a path for valorising our wealth of internal competencies intended to put into practice major strategic company initiatives. Coming within this path are the projects "Managerial Academy" aimed at implementing a centre of managerial excellence from a perspective of leadership and utility management, and "School of Trades", designed to share the technical knowledge present within the Group.
Given the nature of our business, the promotion of health and safety is particularly important to us and we are constantly striving to spread a culture that allows our operators to work in the best possible way. More specifically, in 2019 we provided our employees with an HSE dashboard to monitor performance data, Group safety guidelines and organised the Acea SiCura di te accident prevention campaign.
We are also careful to ensure organisational wellbeing via the creation of an encouraging and inclusive work environment. In this connection, we have defined a Group Welfare Plan, whereby our employees can access a number of services for themselves and their families (travel, transportation, healthcare and health insurance, supplementary pension schemes, etc.), identified thanks to a careful survey of respective needs. The responsibility and reciprocal trust that characterises the relationship with our employees are also reflected in the regular adoption of smart working, which in 2019 involved 508 people, and the changes introduced during the year, providing for: extension of the period for recourse to smart working from 6 to 12 months, raising of the ceiling for access (no longer restricted to 50% of Department staff) and increase in the categories of activity that can be carried out remotely.
We are developing incentive systems for our employees. More specifically, in 2019 we embarked upon a path of increasingly integrating sustainability into business operations, acting on the link between retribution mechanisms and achievement of socio-environmental objectives. With this in mind, we aligned the performance management system (MBO) to the Group Sustainability Plan objectives, adding sustainability targets to the 2019 Objectives Catalogue. In 2019, 50% of the company’s people included in the MBO system assigned themselves individual goals with an impact on sustainability.
We wish to assure our customers regarding the social and environmental sustainability of our supply chain. With this in mind, we talk to our suppliers help them to become increasingly more sustainable.
The main initiatives we have undertaken along the supply chain concern the strengthening of contractual forecasts to protect social and environmental aspects. For example, in our tenders we valorise the companies that can demonstrate their monitoring of sustainability aspects, such as safety training and the use of ecological equipment during operations, and their joint possession of quality, environmental and safety certifications. In 2019, we committed to promoting the protection of supplier workers’ employment, combatting irregular forms of employment that failed to comply with applicable National Collective Labour Agreements. Moreover, as regards the water contracts and those used by contact centres, a social clause was applied to safeguard employment levels in the case of a change of contractor, which guaranteed the transfer of original firm personnel to the successor firms, without any occupational repercussions.
Insofar as concerns green procurement, we apply Minimum Environmental Criteria (MEC) in all tender specifications and are endeavouring to extend this approach to product categories currently not covered by the Ministerial Decrees. Lastly, in order to register with the qualification systems relating to the Single Regulations for Goods and Services and Works, operators must answer a self-assessment questionnaire on quality, environment, safety, energy and sustainability directly managed via our Vendor Management platform and we perform on-site second-party audits and inspections.
We operate in businesses closely linked to natural resources which therefore have a major impact on the environment.
We are constantly committed to sustainable management of our industrial processes from the offtake of resources to their transformation and return to the ecological cycle.
We promote the responsible and efficient use of resources, the protection of springs, the safeguarding of natural areas where the plants and mains networks stand and the mitigation of physical impacts and external effects generated by operational processes on the ecological context. This is why we encourage the companies in our Group to use Management Systems, which we consider to be essential instruments for the sustainable administration of our businesses. Over the last ten years, thanks to the increase in production from renewable energy sources and the enhanced efficiency of internal end uses of energy and process uses, the Group has kept under control carbon intensity values (gCO2/kWh produced) among the lowest in the Italian utility sector, with renewable source energy output accounting for 70% of the total generated. As regards the water sector, we are constantly committed to enhancing the resilience of aqueduct systems, optimising resource management by dividing the network into districts and reducing pollution or water shortages via the implementation of Water Safety Plans (WSPs). Lastly, as regards the environmental services connected with waste management, we are actively developing technologies to improve the efficiency of the processes and transform waste according to the dictates of a circular economy. An example of this is the Acea Smart Comp project, which envisages the development of community composting via mini-plants to be used by large customers for the local treatment of organic waste.
As a multi-utility company, we ensure citizens receive essential services. Driven by this awareness we are committed to becoming a reliable, top quality partner capable of responding to our customer needs.
In the digital era, technology is influencing and rapidly changing not only the infrastructures, but also the dynamics and contact channels between the company and the customer, whose role is taking on characteristics such as greater participation, awareness and digitalisation. Alongside constant commitment to surveying the satisfaction of customers and residents with regard to the services, we communicate with stakeholders in a state-of-the-art manner, thanks to new technologies and the Group's renewed digital ecosystem, and can monitor in real time our services, their level of efficiency and compliance with territorial requirements. After listening carefully, we decided to support the adoption by our customers and residents of sustainable styles of consumption, for example via campaigns to promote renewable energy sources, the use of electronic bills or awareness campaigns on water saving and protection. Moreover, we are proactively committed to maintaining the highest level of trust and good relations with our customers via dedicated confrontation and reconciliation channels and activities, including those of the ADR Body for out-of-court settlement of disputes, the regularisation of abuse phenomena in the water sector and the prevention of cases of unfair or non-competitive trade practices.
Relationships with the economic and financial world are important for enhancing our strengths and creating opportunities for growth.
We maintain an open dialogue of trust with the financial community, which we meet at numerous roadshows in conjunction with major corporate events in the key European piazzas. Here again we continue to give importance to aspects of sustainability, which we know are receiving more and more attention from the financial world: we hold increasingly frequent discussions with ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) analysts to effectively communicate our commitment to creating a shared value with our stakeholders. Among the various achievements, in 2019 we confirmed our inclusion in the Ethibel Excellence Investment Register, improved our score as regards the Carbon Disclosure Project, maintained our ISS ESG rating and obtained our first Standard Ethics solicited sustainability ESG rating.
We want to grow alongside the territory generating the best infrastructural conditions in terms of safety and efficiency, which are the foundations for developing the local community and valorising the monumental heritage via the creation of culture.
To be forerunner and create value means making our networks and plants more efficient, safer and technologically advanced, so that the services can be integrated in an increasingly rapid and reliable manner. This is the direction taken, for example, by our projects and investments in innovation as regards the urban network from a smart city perspective, intelligent public lighting and multiservice metering systems. In this way, we endeavour more and more to actively involve the local populations by means of specific projects, such as stakeholder engagement activities. From a safety standpoint, we ensure the smooth running of our services by enhancing the resilience of the system when faced with critical environmental and fraudulent or terrorist events.
At the same time, we are working with the local communities, and with young people in particular, to disseminate principles of environmental education and valorise our monumental heritage, via initiatives conducted in collaboration with the competent authorities.
When carryng out our work, our guiding principle is the company's sustainability over time.
The year 2020 saw a revision of all the Group’s strategic Plans. Firstly the new Business Plan, whilst confirming the existing strategic pillars, sets new and challenging goals for the Group, starting with the achievement of investments totalling 4 billion Euro scheduled by the end of 2024. At the same time, we also revised the Sustainability Plan at both governance and operational level, in keeping with the Business Plan, the material topics, the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the European Green Deal objectives.
Alignment between the two Plans is an indispensable step for the sustainable development of our businesses whilst respecting the environment, work, the communities and for the creation of value shared with all stakeholders.
We pay careful attention to maintaining an internal organisational structure capable of taking advantage of new opportunities and managing in the best way possible the emerging business challenges. In this connection, innovation is a precious leverage for the development of our business, thanks to which we can grow and provide effective solutions to future challenges, such as smart cities and the reduction of water leaks. The various initiatives pursued in 2019 include the establishment of Acea Innovation for the elaboration of projects and the creation of a favourable environment for innovation and the culture of entrepreneurship, the Memorandum of Understanding with Google Cloud to accelerate the implementation of digital innovation and the setting-up, together with another 13 companies and research centres, of the first Italian industrial research and development centre, engaged in developing the circular economy and environmental sustainability.