Environmental sustainability and the primary challenges - Overview

[GRI - 102-22], [GRI - 102-28], [GRI - 102-29], [GRI - 103-3], [GRI - 301-1], [GRI - 302-1], [GRI - 303-1], [GRI - 305-1], [GRI - 306-1], [GRI - 413-1],

Studies conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), including the most recent Global Risks Report 2024, highlight environmental risks among the “top ten global risks”. Specifically, the consistent increase in the global temperature and related extreme events, the loss of biodiversity and collapse of ecosystems are perceived as the greatest and most serious global threats over the long-term (ten years), (see also the Cop28 boxes: agreements to transition away from fossil fuels and the Biodiversity Crisis: Policies and Tools for Biodiversity Protection)150.

In 2023, the European Commission continued to develop Regulation 2020/852 (so-called “European Taxonomy”), based on Delegated Acts, introducing a list of economic activities and the related technical screening criteria referring to the additional four environmental goals151 and reviewing certain activities that could contribute to achieving the two climate goals (see also Disclosing sustainability: methodological note and the chapter Information required by the European Taxonomy). Against this backdrop, Italy is implementing its National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) to support and promote Italy’s ecological transition, in line with the European Green Deal and the Next Generation EU recovery package. Furthermore, in 2023, Italy adopted the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PNACC), a strategy for becoming more resilient to climate crises, and worked on a proposal to update the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2030 (PNIEC), with new goals and scenarios reflecting the amendments to European legislation.

Mindful of operating in the scope of interdependence between the environment, the territory and the community, Acea endorsed its commitment to sustainable development in its Code of Ethics, updated at the end of 2022, stating that “Acea intends to conduct its business while respecting the principles of sustainable development and contributing to the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) and as they are implemented at European (Green Deal) and national level” and “Acea recognises the environment as a primary asset and is committed to adopting responsible behaviour aimed at reducing environmental impacts and preventing pollution, taking into due consideration the interests of new generations and acting in accordance with the generational pact”.

With regard to the issues relating to climate change, in 2023, Acea published the Group’s second Climate-related Disclosure152, according to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (see the specific information box) with its goals to reduce climate-altering emissions (GHG) endorsed by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) (see also Corporate Identity).

In 2023, with regard to managing water, in agreement with the relevant institutions, Acea continued preparatory actions for the construction of the new upper section of the Peschiera-Le Capore Aqueduct to safeguard the water supply in the city and province of Rome. In this regard, the Technical and Economic Feasibility Studies were completed and the authorisation procedures for certain sections are underway. Also of significance, the collaboration between the Group’s water companies and Universities on the forecast studies on aquifer water availability, aimed at preserving and/ or increasing the resilience of the entire water system.

Acea has played a primary role with regard to the circular economy, for a number of years, with activities aimed at reducing waste of resources, for example by utilising process waste and enabling recovery of energy and secondary raw materials. In this context, the Group has progressively expanded in the field of waste management (Environment business). For example, the waste processing and disposal company Deco, operates a Mechanical Biological Treatment plant for municipal solid waste, one of the largest and most technologically advanced facilities in Europe, which transforms biostabilised waste into Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF), used to power dedicated and non-dedicated plants, such as waste-to-energy plants and cement plants, with less than 35% of incoming waste going to landfills.

Once again, in 2023, the Acea Group attended Ecomondo, the top green and circular economy trade fair in the European and Mediterranean area, presenting a series of projects the main business areas developed (see box).


Acea took part in Ecomondo, which was held in Rimini from 7 to 10 November 2023. This international event provided an opportunity for discussion between industries, stakeholders, policy makers, opinion leaders and local authorities, to define development strategies for the European Union environmental policy.

Acea presented initiatives undertaken by Acea Ambiente, Group companies operating in the circular economy, including: the Tour Acea 2023 Digital Platform, a portal providing 3D interactive and

virtual visits to plants, oering significant educational opportunities, to understand the process whereby waste becomes a resource: waste-to-energy, sludge treatment, plastics regeneration, composting, biogas production, solid recovered fuel production to beginning the valorisation; the “Urbees” project, involving biomonitoring with bees (see specific information box “Bees as bioindicators, the Urbees project, in The protection of the territory and safeguarding biodiversity) and the ACEA NOSE project referring to the testing of a central unit to measure air quality, installed on drones, conducted through flight campaigns, developed by Acea Infrastructure (see also the chapter Companies and Institutions).
For the second consecutive year, Acea received the EMAS Award (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), assigned to the project for the improvement of energy performance at the waste-to-energy plant at San Vittore del Lazio, in the category “projects adopting energy from renewable sources from the perspective of energy independence”.

Finally during the event, a ceremony was also held for the Sustainable Development Award 2023, introduced by the Sustainable Development Foundation and Ecomondo-Italian Exhibition Group, now in its thirteenth year, intended for businesses, start-ups and local Administrations that have stood our for their eco-innovation and eciency in their environmental results. Acea was recognised in the section “Circular management of water in collaboration with ENEA”. The award went to the Acea Waidy® Management System project, namely the cloud-native, flexible, scalable platform integrated with the water service management operating systems.

150 The WEF 2024 was published in January 2024, confirming environmental risks among the top ten most serious long-term global risks.
151 In addition to mitigating climate changes and adapting to climate conditions, it refers to the sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources, transition to the circular economy, also with reference to waste reduction and recycling, pollution prevention and control, protection of biodiversity and the health of ecosystems.
152 Available on the Group website: www.gruppo.acea.it