The Voice of Public Institutions for Sustainability

Public and private institutions continue to increasingly support the principles of sustainable development, coming up with collective positions and planning initiatives that represent the reference outlook and areas for commitment for all those who, like Acea, are seriously committed to this topic.

Box – Sustainability at the International Level - 2009

The Treaty of Lisbon entered into force in December 2009, confirming sustainable development as one of the European Union’s core values and objectives. This completed an essential step in ensuring development of Europe “based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of environment”.
The European Commission raised an interesting debate - strictly linked to this topic – on the need to develop appropriate indicators to measure progress towards sustainable development. Through the communication Not just GDP, measuring progress in a changing world (COM 2009 433) the European Commission reiterated the need to define new measuring standards to integrate the parameters used until now, such as GDP, to highlight harmonious growth from economic, social and environmental viewpoints.
This year’s events highlighted the fact that changing climate and energy matters are never outdated. These aspects are already the subject of a specific European Commission White Paper (COM 2009 147), which highlighted the need to consolidate knowledge concerning the risks and consequences of a changing climate to outline future European policies, and numerous international discussions, including the UNO Summit in Copenhagen. This meeting began under the best possible auspices and widespread activism to reach binding and shared post-Kyoto agreements worldwide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but in the end achieved modest, non-committing results from the States with the highest pollution levels (USA, China, India, Brazil and South Africa), highlighting large differences in the various viewpoints concerning industrial growth.
At the 2009 G8 Summit held in L'Aquila – Italy –, the international community renewed its commitment to socially and environmentally sustainable, responsible and fair governance throughout the world. A large number of documents concerning the future international agenda were approved at the Summit, including a particularly significant joint paper on Responsible leadership for a sustainable future in which the Leaders of industrialized countries confirmed their determination to face the human and social consequences of the economic and financial crisis to set future growth “on a more robust, green, inclusive and sustainable path” through collective values.

Box – Sustainability at National Level - 2009

The initiatives implemented by the Italian Government in 2009 dealt with sustainability from a wide range of aspects.
A number of institutions intervened to the extent of their competencies and responsibilities to outline an integrated approach to oversee the various areas in which sustainable development is implemented in Italy.
Providing education on sustainability is the cultural foundation required to ensure the general public’s involvement in sharing the objective of development focusing on lasting growth and achieving the relative objectives. With this in mind, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Education recently introduced a national training and information plan on safeguarding the environment and sustainable development, legality and good and bad community activism through “Community Activism and the Constitution” education.
With regard to social aspects, the Ministry for Equal Opportunities and the Ministry of Welfare have undertaken a number of important projects. The former carried out a survey to obtain information to help its planning activities on the subject of reconciling family life and work in order to create more opportunities for both men and women; for this purpose, the Ministry also gave its support to the Charter for Equal Opportunities and Equality in the Workplace drawn up by Sodalitas and Impronta Etica. To a wider extent and further to that already promoted through European policies, the Ministry of Welfare wrote a White Paper on the Future of Welfare to encourage a society focusing on people individually and in their relationships at home, at work and in their community, which advocates welfare within the community to create shared and co-responsible wellbeing for all the subjects involved – individuals and associations, businesses and institutions.
Finally, it must be noted that the current Government proposed a Parliamentary Bill before the Senate (Parliamentary Bill 1753/S) entitled “Measures for Developing the Social Responsibility of Businesses”.
The Legislator used this initiative to hypothesize incentives focusing on the social responsibility of businesses in Italy as a condition for protecting human rights, encouraging sustainable economic development, improving the quality and amount of employment, social cohesion and respect for consumers’ rights in view of the evolution in other countries and the contributions made by various international organizations.