There are fundamental questions that every entrepreneur and every company, whether large or small, must be able to answer in a given historical and economic context. Today it is necessary to find the right answer to this question: «Why is it important to integrate sustainability policies into corporate business and what does this integration mean in concrete terms?». Let’s start by saying that sustainability is now understood to be a key tool for sustaining not only the competitiveness and reputation of a company, but also its profitability. In other words, sustainability can no longer be considered just something added to everyday business, but rather must be seen as an integral part of it. Studies and analyses carried out by academics and practitioners over the last few years have offered different answers to the question of integrating sustainability into corporate business. While there is no unanimous opinion, there are multiple points of view, each emphasizing a key aspect of the equation. To understand them, it is useful to analyze the results of a project carried out by Ernst & Young, entitled “Seize the change – Integrating sustainability into the core business”, where the global network of consulting services identifies the five most important meanings of the concept of integrating sustainability and business:

Drive for operational excellence, because it enhances the ability of processes to achieve expected results, enriching and updating them through the lens of sustainability (for example, the introduction of environmental and social sustainability clauses in the supplier selection/management process or the integration of sustainability risks in the risk management process).

Integrated thinking, in which integration is a new holistic way of thinking about the company and of conceiving the creation of value as a result of the interaction between tangible and intangible capital in the specific context in which it operates.

Engine of innovation, because integration generates new ways of innovating products, including environmental and social aspects right from the moment of their conception.

Response to a changing world, meant as the ability of companies to understand and interpret the social, environmental and economic changes taking place, so as to transform not only operational practices, but also the very purpose of business.

New models of social impact, where radically new business models truly oriented towards the common good and its impact on society take hold.

Regarding the issue of the benefits of integrating sustainability and business, EY traces the benefits back to three macro-categories: greater investor attraction and risk reduction, customer commitment and reputation enhancement, and improved human resource management.

In the first case, a positive correlation emerges between sustainability integration and financial performance in terms of equity returns, return on capital, and investments. The results are estimated to be a performance differential of 4% to 6% for “high sustainability” companies compared to unstructured entities. Why? Better management of intangible capital, long-term vision, strong relationships with all business stakeholders, and increased focus on risk management. In terms of customer commitment and reputation enhancement, analysts argue that sustainability strengthens the bond with the customer from the perspective of business and values, developing brand loyalty. And finally, the third benefit relates to improved human resource management measured in increased worker productivity, job satisfaction, and greater corporate attractiveness to new talent.

The path of Maire Tecnimont

Within our Group, all of these questions were asked many years ago. For some time now, thanks to the support of an increasingly mature corporate culture, we have been working on the integration of sustainable policies into our core business. Over time, it is from this awareness that our resilience has developed; that ability to adapt and react to external shocks, which has allowed us to face the crisis generated by the pandemic, an event that has upset the balance of markets and threatened every form of social organization. This is also why we have a thorough understanding of what “sustainability” means: it is a path towards evolution that is born from the values of a company, is rooted in its processes and generates impact in the world. By answering the right questions (those reviewed above), key words and messages are generated that define and determine the entrepreneurial style of each company. Maire Tecnimont’s assets are: a commitment to the acceleration of the energy transition, digitalization, open innovation and the creation of value with respect for the environment in the communities of the territories in which we operate. Emphasizing that above all, the most important aspect for us is our people, their professional growth, and their health and well-being.

A strategy inspired by the UN Goals

This year, in 2021, a repeat of the critical situation caused by the Covid emergency of 2020, we have decided to reiterate the Group’s key concepts with greater conviction, translating them into a Sustainability Strategy inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: a path that is complementary to our industrial strategy and ESG principles. With this in mind, in addition to having expanded the structure dedicated to sustainability, we are creating a task force dedicated to the reduction of CO2 emissions, a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and several working groups to develop lines of action and projects in four areas of intervention, the four clusters that guide the sustainability strategy: climate, circular economy and environment; people; innovation that brings wellbeing; communities and territories.

More specifically, the macro-objectives in the environmental area address:

• The contribution to sustainable mobility with the development of technologies for low carbon and ‘bio’ fuels.

• The circularity of plastics (through technologies for quality mechanical and chemical recycling) and the increase of solutions to produce bio-plastics.

• The development of technologies to transition to a hydrogen economy and a more sustainable use of gas.

All this through a concept of innovation that is not only technological (concentrated in particular in the subsidiary NextChem), but also economic and social, closely linked to the concept of well-being and at the same time open and interconnected with the external ecosystem. An innovation capable of contributing to both the technological and social process, reducing the impact on the environment and supporting the shift towards decarbonization. An example of this is the Green Circular District, 10 projects being studied across the country that focus on innovative technologies in the field of green chemistry and recycling, with the aim of converting production sites previously used by traditional and brownfield industries.

«The international and national external scenario - explains Ilaria Catastini, Group Sustainability Manager of Maire Tecnimont - is changing at an unprecedented speed in the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and comply with Sustainable Development Goals. Maire Tecnimont wants to be an enabler of the energy transition in the hard-to-abate sectors on a global scale. At the same time, this is both a business goal of our Green Unit and a sustainability objective: through the development of technological proposals for decarbonization and the circular economy, we are stimulating the ecological transition by enabling an acceleration of the pathways to carbon neutrality. We are also working on reducing our emissions and innovating traditional processes to minimize their environmental impact».

The objective is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, for both direct and indirect emissions, with the target for value chain emissions extended to 2050.

Particular attention has been paid to social development, with priority being given to the health and safety of our people through continuous training and empowerment, the promotion of a multicultural and inclusive environment, and the creation of value in the areas where we operate. As well as the promotion of open innovation and digitalization.

The words of CEO Pierroberto Folgiero summarize the objectives of the new Sustainability Strategy: «We began our journey ten years ago by joining the United Nations Global Compact. Today, we have fully integrated a number of ESG (environmental, social and governance) indicators into our industrial strategy. We are willing and able to take on the role of enablers of the global energy transition, putting our knowledge of the processes for the transformation of natural resources at the service of an increasingly circular and low-carbon economy. Creating value for the benefit of people – whether they work for our supply chains or for the local communities in the geographies where we operate – is a central commitment for Maire Tecnimont. The progress we strive for, as engineers and as doers, is one that creates sustainable progress for people by respecting human rights, diversity that creates cultural richness, and the potential of each person on both the personal and professional level».

Maire Tecnimont and Sustainability

The Group, recognized as an ESG Identity - IGI COMPANY 2021 EticaNews as of this year, achieved the following in the course of 2020:

• more than 30 ongoing industrial projects around the world employing energy transition technologies, with a growing portfolio of technologies through a variety of partnership agreements;

• more than 10 projects being studied in Italy for the creation of Green Circular Districts;

• more than 10 international energy transition research projects;

• the extension of the reporting scope to include indirect Scope 3 emissions, with the aim of defining a plan for the gradual reduction of emissions and the offset of those that cannot be reduced;

• SA8000 certification on a multi-geographic level, the first Italian Group and the first company world-wide in the technology, engineering and construction sectors of the energy industry to obtain such a certification;

• the signing of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) promoted by Global Compact;

• the launch of the ESG qualification program for all new suppliers including social and environmental criteria and governance;

• the provision of over 1.27 million hours of training to the Group’s employees and subcontractors with an average of 27 hours of training per employee with a particular focus this year on cyber security;

• the consolidation of a multi-year In-Country Value plan;

• 53% of purchases related to current projects were made locally during the year and approximately 88% of new hires in the new geographies came from the local labor market;

• excellent HSE performance with a zero LTIR (Lost Time Injury Rate) index;

• over 1,700 total patents and 81 projects of innovation, with the adoption of an Open Innovation model involving universities, start-ups and local partners;

• improved ratings with a score of A in the MSCI index and A- in the CDP Supplier Engagement Leader rating.