Looking back on our first ESG Day
Wednesday 29 November 2023
On 9th November, we hosted our inaugural ESG Day – Empowering a Just and Fair Transition, with over 11,000 participants joining either online or in person at our Gae Aulenti and Lampugnano offices in Milan.
At its core, the event was an opportunity to foster stakeholder dialogue, while continuing to raise awareness of climate change, social inequalities, biodiversity and the circular economy, as well as our own role in fostering the necessary change in mindset.
Attendees included colleagues, clients and partners, alongside a host of renowned experts, diving into a series of engaging and impactful discussions covering the full spectrum of ESG topics.
The day was also intersected by two impressive creative interludes, the first an immersive journey through the sights and sounds of climate change entitled Silence Makes Noise, with the second an inspirational performance by the AllegroModerato orchestra.
In addition to opening addresses from our CEO and Head of Italy, Andrea Orcel, Head of Group Strategy & ESG, Fiona Melrose and Joanna Carss, Head of Group Stakeholder Engagement, participants heard keynote speeches from Telmo Pievani, Full Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Padua and Matteo Ward, sustainable fashion entrepreneur, and CEO and Co-founder of WRÅD.
One of the key takeaways from Mr. Pievani’s opening keynote was the need for ‘cathedral thinking’ – the concept of laying the foundations of our future world, even if it will be future generations, and not us, who are there to enjoy it.
Elsewhere, the opening panel session, entitled ‘The road ahead: Safeguarding the climate in troubling times’, framed an important discussion, with the panellists agreeing that when addressing the intricacies of climate change, amidst the complexity, there is still work to be done to foster transparency, ownership and strong governance. However, the ideas of new ESG-focused start-ups – such as digital and AI tools for measuring resource consumption or extracting raw materials with minimal emissions – provided grounds for optimism.
This was followed by a session on ‘The social debate: Putting the ‘S’ centre stage’, where the panellists noted the need for a clear multistakeholder approach, bolstered by precise impact measurement for social initiatives and underpinned by an educational role towards clients and communities. In such a framework, the social component can lead the debate alongside climate change.
“ESG is one of our five strategic imperatives and we seek to embed it in everything we do as a bank. The purpose of this event was to enrich our ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders by creating a space for impactful discussions around some of the most critical challenges we all face today. This dialogue is fundamental in helping us fine-tune our approach as we continue our path to be the bank for Europe’s future.”
Fiona Melrose, Head of Group Strategy & ESG
There was also a dedicated session on two more nascent topics: ‘Bolstering biodiversity and shifting to the circular economy’. The session focused on the intrinsic link between climate change and biodiversity – as the climate changes, habitats get lost, and so does the biodiversity that relies on those habitats.
With the issue still relatively new, the panellists were also keen to emphasise just why it is so important – noting that ecosystems are tightly interconnected and interdependent, and this balance can be quickly undone.
The social component remained centre stage in this discussion, primarily given the nexus between biodiversity and local communities, with the circular economy a strong lever to empower biodiversity preservation.
We’re already looking forward to next year’s edition!