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Cathedral thinking : UniCredit inaugural ESG Day highlights importance of social debate


Pan-European bank's first ever ESG Day called for organisations and individuals across Europe to embrace a new way of thinking to protect the future of our people and planet


On 9th November, UniCredit hosted its inaugural ESG Day - Empowering a Just and Fair Transition.


The one-day event saw over 11,000 participants join in either online or in person at the bank's Gae Aulenti and Lampugnano offices in Milan.


Attendees included employees, clients and partners, alongside a host of renowned ESG experts, diving into a series of engaging and impactful discussions covering the full spectrum of ESG topics.


In addition to opening addresses from UniCredit CEO and Head of Italy, Andrea Orcel, Head of Group Strategy & ESG, Fiona Melrose and Joanna Carss, Head of Group Stakeholder Engagement, attendees 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' across the piste - 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 among panellists Angela Morelli, CEO and Co-founder of InfoDesignLab, Silvia Pavoni, Founder and Editor of FT Sustainable Views, Xavier Lerin, Senior Research Manager at ShareAction, Massimo Catizone, Global Head of ESG Advisory, UniCredit, Paloma Lopez Imizcoz, ESG Manager, NB Renaissance, Francesca Perrone, Head of ESG & Start Lab Italy, UniCredit, and moderator Giuseppe Zammarchi, Head of ESG Metrics, Policies & Disclosures, UniCredit.


The panellists agreed 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, but 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', moderated by Rossella Iorio, Head of ESG Service Excellence, UniCredit, featuring Giovanna Melandri, Human Foundation President and GSG Ambassador, Enrico Giovannini, Professor at University 'Tor Vergata' and Director of the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development, Ilaria di Mattia, Head of ESG Strategy & Implementation, UniCredit, Silvia Cappellini, General Manager, UniCredit Foundation, Stefano Zamagni, Professor of Civil Economics at the University of Bologna, and Matteo Ward.


Here, 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.


There was also a dedicated session on two more nascent topics: 'Bolstering biodiversity and shifting to the circular economy'. This panel involved Tim Flannery, Chief Councillor at the Australian Climate Council, Telmo Pievani, Coordinator of the National Biodiversity Future Center, Andreas Wagner, Head of Division Promotional Loan & Startup and Succession Financing at UniCredit HVB, Juergen Kern, Director, Corporate Strategy and Sustainability at Group KfW, and was moderated by Rossella Iorio.


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.

In presence attendees also had the opportunity to explore how these ideas can be put into practice through a series of workshops led by professors from Politecnico di Milano.


Commenting on the event, Fiona Melrose, Head of Group Strategy & ESG, UniCredit said, "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."


For more information around our inaugural ESG Day or to watch a recording of the event, please click here.



Milan, 16 November, 2023



Media Relations