Our relationship with the Institutions is a fundamental aspect of our business, bearing in mind that we provide 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 continues its commitment to the ECHO (European network of Cybersecurity centres and competence Hub for innovation and Operations) programme for the establishment of a European network of cybersecurity competence centres and to the H2020 ATENA project concerned with the security and resilience of digital infrastructures.
Regarding the circular economy, Acea took part in the activities of the first Italian Industrial Research and Development Centre (AIRES), a network of companies, institutions and technology consortia engaged in 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.
Being aware that improvement depends first and foremost on the applied skills of our people, we give importance to training and the valuation of competences. Coming within this path of internal competence development 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.
We are also careful to ensure organisational well-being via the creation of an encouraging and inclusive work environment. In this connection, in 2020 we extended the Group Welfare Plan, enhancing the offer of services to individuals and their households; Acea also reutilised part of the tax relief enjoyed thanks to the Welfare Plan in favour of its employees. The particular circumstances imposed by the health emergency brought Acea even closer to its people via initiatives such as remote individual and collective psychological counselling and parenting support actions. Dedicated organisational measures were put in place, for example the creation of a prevention and management committee, the reorganisation of work spaces and methods, the administration of gratuitous serological testing, enjoyed by around 3,000 employees, the Covid-19 insurance policy taken out in favour of employees and their families in addition to the health insurance policy. Moreover we adopted and certified the Biosafety Trust Model, concerning the processes aimed at minimising the risk of spreading epidemics in workplaces.
Smart working, already utilised by the Company as an experimental method prior to the emergency, was promptly extended to over 3,700 employees (approximately 85% of the total) and digital working procedures were adopted also for processes that are typically performed “in the workplace”, such as the recruitment and training of personnel.
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. Again in 2020, we confirmed our commitment 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 continues to be applied to safeguard employment levels in the case of a change of contractor, guaranteeing 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, gradually including the product categories hitherto not covered by the Ministerial Decrees. Lastly, for the assessment of suppliers during execution of the contract, Acea has starting implementing Group Vendor Rating, which will also monitor sustainability based on a composite indicator developed with Ecovadis.
We give priority to the safeguarding of our suppliers’ employees via specific actions, particularly following the Covid-19 emergency; in addition to the signing of ad hoc Protocols with the social partners, initiatives were put in place to reduce epidemic risks and increase the controls on anti-contagion measures at the worksites and supplier awareness activities were carried out.
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 (link alla pagina Sustainability policy and management systems), which we consider to be essential instruments for the sustainable administration of our businesses. The Group has embarked on a major plan to increase production from renewable energy sources and has set itself the goal of achieving high efficiency in the internal end uses and process uses of energy and reducing carbon intensity (gCO2/kWh produced). More specifically, in 2020 our generation fleet acquired 16 MW of new solar energy facilities, to reach a total of 52.5 MW. 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 and 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.
In order to consolidate the good relationships with our customers, we are constantly committed to maintaining the highest level of trust, 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.
With the Covid-19 health emergency we have further enhanced our focus on customers, in order to help both ensure operational activities during the lockdown and minimise the risk of contagion. To this end, we further expanded our digital channels (App MyAcea) and introduced new remote support services
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 sustainability aspects, 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 our various achievements, in 2020 we maintained our CDP score (A-) and improved both the outlook (positive) and long-term expected rating (EE+) assigned by Standard Ethics. Lastly, Acea was included among the 15 largest listed EU multi-utility companies comprising the SE European Multi-Utilities Index, whose performances are assessed by key sustainability analysts such as Sustainalytics, VigeoEiris, MSCI, FTSE Russel ESG, Refinitiv, Bloomberg GEI.
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.
In particular, during this year of deep necessity we accompanied the local communities operating on the front line, via an intense activity of financial and technical support for major hospitals, such as the Gemelli Polyclinic and the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and Associations committed to the protection of fragility and primary needs, such as the Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society (AISM), the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Italian Red Cross.
When carrying out our work, our guiding principle is to be a sustainable and forward-thinking business.
The year 2020 saw a revision of the Group strategy. Firstly the new Business Plan, which placed sustainability as one of the strategic pillars, sets new and challenging goals for the Group, providing for investments totalling 4 billion Euro by the end of 2024. At the same time, we also reviewed the Sustainability Plan at both governance and operational level, in keeping with our growth objectives, the material topics, the goals of the 2030 Agenda pertaining to the businesses managed and the European Green Deal objectives. The synergy and complementarity of the Business Plan and the Sustainability Plan is essential for building a sustainable growth path, whilst respecting the environment and work conditions, and for the creation of a value shared with the local community.
[PE1] We are also careful to maintain an efficient internal organisational infrastructure (procedures, rules, organisation) that is suited to the emerging needs. Worthy of note is the full operativity during the year of the Ethics Officer, a collective body whose purpose is to pursue business ethics, and the constantly enhanced management of business risks, including those pertaining to sustainability. The Group’s commitment has been recognised also via the achievement of major awards such as the Top Utility Award for Sustainability, the Company Award for Innovation promoted by Confindustria and the Prize of Prizes awarded by the Prime Minister’s Office.