eni fao pozzi nigeria

Eni for, not only a report

Cristina Saporetti and Matilde Garavini explain the importance of the Six-legged Dog’s sustainability annual reporting.

by Davide Perillo
29 July 2021
11 min read
by Davide Perillo
29 July 2021
11 min read

You can read through in order, starting with page 2, where in his "message to stakeholders" Claudio Descalzi, CEO, describes "a year we won’t easily forget", with "the global pandemic highlighting the vulnerability of development models", and find out as you go through chapter by chapter, what this unpredictable and challenging 2020 has meant for a company like Eni. Or, you can browse through, looking for what stands out, perhaps photos of a flooded forest in Congo and graphics describing how sustainability is integrated into business. Stories that might only seem quite minor until you put yourself in the shoes of those there. The children who received exercise books and blackboards in the Mexican state of Tabasco, the women who were able to find work thanks to the Halo Trust programme and the clean-up of mined land in Angola, the budding entrepreneurs in Kenya, who are launching their own start-ups with the help of the E4Impact Foundation and the Catholic University. 

Or you can take a closer look at the maps and tables, and stop to consider those numbers, which on the face of it might seem clinical, but also have faces and people behind them. And they can tell us a lot about a change in progress. Whether it is the €96.1 million invested in local development, or the 1.04 million hours of training provided. The 91% of fresh water put back into circulation after production to avoid waste or the 222,708 participants registering for "health promotion initiatives", a hot topic in the year of the pandemic. Whichever way you approach it, Eni for 2020 - A just transition is a report describing the sustainability witnessed and experienced by the Six-legged Dog over the past year. A compact publication describing Eni's activities in the many countries where it operates, as well as a pocket guide to the world. Three volumes packed with tables and graphs, but also stories, interviews, images... in short, full of life. It is a report that helps the reader to better understand the path of a company that is increasingly aware of this issue.

So much so that it invests heavily in work that goes beyond the classic reporting required by law. "The 2020 report is our fifteenth, so we have been working on voluntary reporting for some time" explains Cristina Saporetti, Head of Sustainability Reporting. The legally required sustainability reporting, i.e. the Non-Financial Statement, is included in the company's financial statements, but Eni for is an altogether different document. "It focuses on storytelling, including through the use of images, it looks at the theme closer and in a more engaging way. And it is not only aimed at an audience of financial analysts and investors, "we are talking to governments, international bodies and potential project partners," explains Matilde Garavini, who works with Saporetti on the team producing the report. "And we edit it strategically. We don’t call it a sustainability report because reporting is a word that suggests something in the past. We want to explain the path we are on and what lies ahead, targets, strategy, how we are doing and why”.

And this path runs along three tracks, which Saporetti calls the three levers of the business model: "First and foremost, operational excellence. This cuts across the whole business and is applied to every aspect of Eni's work, from a focus on safety, the protection of human rights, inclusion, respect for the environment and business transparency and integrity. Then, carbon neutrality, which the company has set itself the target of achieving by 2050 and we report on the progress step by step. Finally, partnerships for development, the ability to network with partners of all kinds, governments, international institutions, NGOs and local organisations. Whatever it takes to ensure the countries where we operate grow with us. But in addition to these two levers, development partnerships also play an extremely important role for us. Eni for explains all this in detail”.

Q: Why? 

A: "When working in a country, we identify the actions needed to meet the needs of communities and lay the foundations for new development opportunities for the country and Eni's business activities. Projects and action plans are decided together with local organisations, assessing the impact on people's lives, their rights, the needs of relevant stakeholders and so on. This has been the Eni way of doing things since the days of Enrico Mattei. The report follows in that vein, by pooling not only economic resources, but also know-how and experience, we contribute to the improvement of the identified initiatives and the achievement of the SDGs.

There is no shortage of stories, with the Eni galaxy big enough to produce a steady stream. "We start by scouting new stories on the website, to see which we should focus on," says Saporetti. Then begins the wide-ranging dialogue with representatives of the various countries and business functions to establish priorities. "The report is a product of Eni, of the company as a whole, not just ours."

The result is a dossier (flanked by two other documents on Carbon Neutrality and Sustainability Performance) that describes the progress of the year's activities, and those launched over time, intended to generate development in countries where Eni has been operating for many years. A perfect example is the digging of water wells in Nigeria for the population in the North West, an area plagued by the Lake Chad water crisis that compounds the problems caused by the scourge of Boko Haram jihadists. As is the response to the borderless emergency which we have all been faced with for a year and a half.

Q: Covid is of course one of the leading issues in the 2020 report, and not only because of the chilling numbers (did you know that the pandemic has set back the fight against poverty by 8-10 years in the 70 poorest countries, or that 463 million students were completely cut off from schooling?)

A: "We started from there in this year's document" says Garavini, "the way the company reacted to the emergency is a common thread. It is addressed both with a specific focus, looking at investments made to support communities, and with more cross-cutting themes, such as the adoption of remote working, the impact on training and the use of HPC5, the company's supercomputer, to study the virus”. Here too is a parallel path made up of numbers and stories. From the €35 million allocated to fight Covid, to the €600,000 raised by employees for the Red Cross, to the interview with Professor Rocco Bellantone, doctor at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome (one of the hospitals supported by Eni). "But what struck me is that this wasn't just about health projects," adds Saporetti. "We also talk about awareness campaigns for clean water, the importance of hand washing, support programmes in schools... It's something I wouldn't have thought of at first, but we've covered that too". And you’ll find news on a range of stories including the provision of intensive care equipment in Angola, computers for distance learning in Iraq, ventilators donated to Mexico and supplies for Kazakh hospitals.

Q: Eni for includes maps and tables with the icons of the 17 SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN 2030 Agenda. 

A: "They are another decisive reference point for us", says Saporetti. They serve to guide initiatives, to ensure they have the best possible impact on people's lives and the environment, on rights and on the local economy. It is useful to understand that a project to dig water wells in a rural area of an African country, for example, not only helps to provide drinking water (SDG 6), but also to improve the lives of women and thus gender equality (goal 5), health (goal 3) and the fight against hunger (SDG 2). "In the report, in addition to illustrating how individual projects are linked to one or more of the SDGs, we also try to classify information on the Goals, to monitor progress," Garavini adds. 

Q: But what is the most difficult aspect of describing the company in this less institutional way?

A: "Synthesis," smiles Saporetti: "We are a huge organisation, we could fill thousands of pages. So creating a comprehensive document that isn’t unwieldy, something fresh that stimulates the interest of the reader, it’s not an easy task... Also, the level of complexity. Year after year, there are more and more people and functions involved in editing. We need to connect with everyone, both centrally and in the countries where we operate, to tell them what Eni does best".

Q: But, the other side of this coin is that it gives us the opportunity to have a global vision. 

A: "That's the beauty of our work. To write a report like this, you have to be aware of what steps are being taken in all fields. This year, for the first time, we have included topics such as sustainable finance and cybersecurity". And it has opened different perspectives on familiar themes. "HPC5, for example,' says Garavini, "We have always talked about it as a feather in Eni's cap. And rightly so, because it is a supercomputer capable of billions of operations per second and unique for a company. But the narrative largely revolved around that extraordinary computing power. This year, during the health emergency, we were able to talk more concretely about what a tool like this can do. Supercomputing, applied to molecular biology, has been used to help research into the virus, and in the report we explain how.

Q: Eni for explains many other things too.

A: "There is a wealth of facts in there to answer many specific questions from our stakeholders, investors, analysts, external stakeholders... It's a way to have a complete overview at your fingertips. And to generate ideas”. 

Q: From what you have observed, how has awareness of these issues changed? Not in general strategies, but the common awareness in the daily life of the company.

A: "It has definitely grown" says Saporetti. "Eni is transforming itself in every way to take a leading role in the Just transition, and to do so requires clear strategies that start with every business unit, not just sustainability." Another sign of this, Garavini adds, “Is that the exchange of information is also increasing in the opposite direction. Increasingly more business units are now contacting us to say ‘we have this project, you could talk about this'". Hopefully we will in the next report.

The author: Davide Perillo

Journalist, he currently deals with sustainability, social issues and Third Sector. He was director of Tracce magazine for 13 years. He is a member of the editorial staff of the Rimini Meeting (an international event for which he has managed numerous meetings), he was editor-in-chief of Sette, a magazine of Corriere della Sera newspaper and covered the economy section for L'Europeo. He has a degree in Philosophy and a master's degree in Journalism.