Acea: the values and the contribution towards sustainability

The planning and the provision of public utility services, such as those seen to by Acea, are fundamental activities for ensuring and furthering the social, environmental and economic development of a community.

Operating with a view to ensuring the fruition of essential services in line with the requests of the general public and with the dynamic needs of the economic operators, on a consistent basis with observance of the environmental features of the area, requires an in-depth knowledge of the related role and commitment.

In order to be up to this commitment, not only in terms of manpower and plants, but also and above all else rules of conduct, responsible guiding values and management systems - which link and provide long-lasting meaning to the daily acts - the Acea Group has endowed itself with value codes, policies15 and instruments suitable for implementing the responsible governance of the business, also bearing witness to the same in the sustainability report

The Acea Group Ethical Code, 2012 edition

The Ethical Code is a voluntary self-governance instrument via which Acea declares and expresses the values, principles and conduct-related standards which must guide its action and that of the stakeholders in the reciprocal dealings.

In the new edition of the Group Ethical Code, approved by Acea’s Board of Directors in February 2012, and disclosed in April, outdating the previous 2004 edition, both the contents present in the previous edition of said Ethical Code and in other pre-existing value codes were reconfirmed and in some cases more accurately defined, integrating the contents of the Values Charter and the Tender Ethics Code as well in a single document. The concept of sustainability itself, for example, has been more appropriately analysed and included for the first time among the general ethical principles.

The document is constructed with a high level of detail in the statement of the conduct which is acknowledged positive or negative ethical valance in dealings with the parties concerned (employees and customers, shareholders and the market, institutions, public administration authorities, political parties and trade unions) and specific sensitive matters are dealt with (conflicts of interest, environment protection, competition, protection of the privacy of workers and customers).

Explicit references were also introduced to the duty of reporting violations and a specific procedure was set up which disciplines the methods for receiving, handling and analysing the reports, as well as the methods for reporting to senior management and the Ethics Committee.

15 The complete versions of the value codes - Acea Group Mission , Quality, Environment, Safety and Energy Policy,  Group Ethical Code, Protection Policy   are available on the company intranet and on the website



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The reflection which Acea dedicates to the concepts and applications of corporate social responsibility and sustainability, is also appropriately guided by the developments which these matters experience, at national and international level, in academic, institutional and industrial spheres. In 2012, two important public initiatives were undertaken. The first was  the definition, by the Italian Government, of a National action plan on CSR, used to formulate, thanks to extensive discussion with the parties concerned, the policies and the positions to be developed in the country on the subject, also in observance of the strong promoting boost of the European Union, which constantly confirms the decisive role of CSR in future policies. The second initiative, just as significant, was the creation by the Italian Antitrust of the legality rating instrument, which offers economic operators active in Italy effective advantages, in terms of bankability and access to public funding, for those who, amongst other aspects, demonstrate that they internalise corporate social responsibility principles and practices (see related Box). At international level, 2012 was the year of the ONU conference on sustainable growth “Rio+20”, named thus as it was held at a distance of 20 years from the first world summit on the subject held in the same city, Rio de Janeiro. During this summit - details of which are provided in the dedicated box in the section Environmental Issues - the themes of green economy  and global governance for sustainable development were developed.

Box – The National action plan on corporate social responsibility (PAN-RSI)

Towards the end of 2012, in response to the Communication of the European Commission No. 681/2011 (Renewed strategy of the EU for the period 2011-2014 regarding the social responsibility of companies), the Italian Government presented its National Action Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility for the two-year period 2012-2014. This document, implemented under the auspices of the Department of Labour and Social Policies and the Ministry for Economic Development, first and foremost represents an official summary of the best CSR practices and experiences implemented throughout Italy by public bodies, local authorities, individual or organised companies, research centres, civil society and the tertiary sector. Starting off from this wealth of abundant experience, the Plan’s aim is to outline priority action and measures aimed at pursuing at national aggregate level, with the participation of the stakeholders, sustainability objectives consistent with the wider EU design.

These objectives are listed in six points: 1) increasing the culture of responsibility care of the companies, citizens and area communities; 2) supporting the companies who adopt CSR; 3) contributing towards the enhancement of the market incentives for CSR; 4) furthering the initiatives of the social companies, the third sector and active citizen organisations, and civil society; 5) encouraging the accountability and disclosure of economic, financial, social and environmental information; 6) furthering the CSR via instruments recognised at international level and international co-operation.

For the purpose of making support for the National action plant more abundant and widespread and in consideration of the multi-disciplinary nature of the subject matters, the government submitted the document for public consultation, requesting the contribution of every party involved, so as to subsequently bring a position which expresses all the aspects of the country system on CSR to the attention of the European bodies, for the very first time.

Box – Legality rating

The Italian Decree Law on “Liberalisation” dated 2012, as amended and converted  finally by Italian Law No.  62/2012, added to the tasks of the Anti-trust authority as an institution suitable for  “furthering the introduction of ethical principles in corporate conduct. In this connection, besides being able to report to national parliament on the law amendments useful for providing a boost to business ethics, the Authority has been appointed to draw up and assign a legality rating system which furthers a renewed, qualified and rewarding observance of the ESG (environmental, social, governance) requirements by companies. The assignment of the rating, in fact, as envisaged by the implementing regulations issued by the same Authority, shall have significant effects on the granting of public funding and access to bank lending. In order to obtain these benefits, the companies who present an application to the Anti-trust authority shall have to demonstrate possession of specific requisites, some of which fundamental as follows: the absence of sentences inflicted with regard to anti-trust, tax matters and with regard to health and safety in the workplace in the two years prior to the request, the correct payment of remuneration and welfare, social security and insurance contributions, as well as compliance with Italian Legislative Decree No.  231/01.

The observance of the afore-mentioned stringent requirements will make it possible for the company to see itself awarded a basic rating which may be increased in concurrence with the existence of additional rewarding elements. Among these, the regulations have included  the adoption of processes aimed at guaranteeing forms of corporate social responsibilityand the inclusion of sustainability indexes.

The impact of these new provisions, which as mentioned will affect the bankability of the companies, extended the methods for assessing the corporate operations, not limiting the same to economic and financial results, but contemplating aspects of legality, management correctness and principles of sustainability.