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REE Reflects on ESG Recovery at its 2021 Sustainability Workshops

The Red Electrica Group is initiating a new line of action in four major critical areas. The first is the territory over which its grid is deployed, mainly in rural areas. Investment with social impact, the role of citizens in the face of the climate emergency, and the contribution of companies to a sustainable future were some of the other topics on the table at the last session of the REE conference.



The coronavirus has shown how interconnected the world we live in is. The direct or indirect consequences of global warming, the destruction of biodiversity, and the fragility of our planet’s balance have become evident in the last year and a half.

As the Third Vice-President of the Government and Minister of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, said, “the current crisis requires accelerating a green and social recovery,” which invests, above all, in people and their relationship with nature.

Her words inaugurated the 2021 Sustainability Conference held by the Red Eléctrica Group last week. Because, as she said, “social concerns, together with environmental risks, are now central components that guide decisions from the point of view of entrepreneurship and public and private investments.”

The Reina Sofía Museum, the venue for this meeting, hosted and inspired the more than 30 experts who met last week in Madrid to delve into the urgent need for companies to consider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in their strategic, management and investment decisions. Only in this way will they be able to promote the transition to a sustainable, fair, and inclusive development model.

There were three days of intense debates and reflections dedicated to each of the acronyms of these criteria, which were surrounded not only by the greatest experts in sustainability in the country but also by the greatest works of art in history.

“The current crisis requires accelerating a green and social recovery, which invests, above all, in people,” recognized Teresa Ribera

Read more about the 2021 Sustainability Conference held by the Red Eléctrica Group and find the latest financial headlines in the world with the Born2Invest mobile app.

The path of governance

The first day of the conference focused on corporate governance. That is, what concerns the quality of management, accountability, transparency, governing bodies, and risk profile. The president of the Red Eléctrica Group, Beatriz Corredor, focused on the social aspect of ESG criteria, because “there is no benefit for the company if there is no common good.

In addition, Corredor explained that Red Eléctrica (REE), as a company that deploys infrastructures in the territory, has the commitment “to do so leaving things better than we found them.” For this reason, she recalled, its model “begins by first listening to what the communities need” and then developing the projects.

Finally, he stressed that “it is essential that sustainability is integrated into the purpose and culture of companies as an essential pillar in business strategies and that it becomes a key factor in the decision-making process of boards of directors”.

In this regard, Roberto García Merino, CEO of the Group, conveyed that, in order to contribute to the green recovery, Red Eléctrica has taken on important challenges for the coming years.

Among them, making the energy transition a reality, with greater electrification of the economy, the massive integration of renewable energies into the electricity system guaranteeing its safety and increasing its efficiency. “There is no benefit for the company if there is no common good,” said Beatriz Corredor.

21st-century companies

Responsible investment, corporate purpose, non-financial performance, and the challenges of the green recovery were the focus of the dialogues and round tables of a first day focused on clarifying the requirements to be met by 21st-century companies in order to be sustainable.

In this regard, Montserrat Martínez, vice-president of the CNMV, pointed out that “in order to fight climate change, transparency in the market is key, and for this, it is essential to achieve comparability of companies’ non-financial information.”

Margarita Delgado, deputy governor of the Bank of Spain, said that “financial institutions are incorporating non-financial elements, not only environmental but also social, into the management and culture of organizations. However, there is still a long way to go.”

“Financial institutions are incorporating environmental and social elements into their management and culture,” said Margarita Delgado.

For his part, Aitor Jáuregui, head of the investment management company BlackRock in Iberia, recalled that “companies have a great responsibility to help the communities in which they operate” and that “the generation of long-term value is incompatible with unsustainable practices”.

José Carlos García de Quevedo, president of the Instituto de Crédito Oficial, conveyed that “it is necessary to continue promoting the development of sustainable banking and non-banking financial instruments.” He also assured that ICO is transforming its internal governance model to align its activity with sustainability objectives.

The environment in power

The commitment to environmental sustainability, and therefore to the fight against climate change, is an opportunity for companies to increase their positive impact on society.

Because, as was stated during REE’s second sustainability day, economic and social benefits are not incompatible. Rather, on the contrary, they are increasingly closely linked. “There will be no ecological transition if there is no cultural transition,” said Hugo Morán.

Last Thursday, the Reina Sofia Museum was dressed in green nature. The Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, pointed out that “there will be no ecological transition if there is no cultural transition.” And he reminded those attending the conference that “we need to rethink our way of understanding life in all areas: as workers, as consumers and as society as a whole. If we do not manage to get society as a whole to integrate the need to undertake this change, it will not be possible or will have unattainable costs.”

Morán spoke with Ségolène Royal, France’s former Minister of Ecological Transition, who offered a reflection on the upcoming COP26.

“The time for debate is over. It is time to act with a focus on countries, territories, companies, and people, and with transparency. This is the only way to successfully halt the climate crisis,” he said.

In his opinion, “the worst current and future conflicts, those related to the lack of resources or food, with significant losses of human rights, are due to unequal development. Changing the model to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the excessive use of natural resources is an obligation, but also an opportunity.”

Terrestrial and marine biodiversity

The state of the seas and oceans was one of the topics of the second day, during which Red Eléctrica’s Marine Forest project was presented. Alexandra Cousteau, founder of Oceans 2050, recalled that “we have already lost 50% of the life of our oceans, but we can still restore the abundance of our seas.”

“It is time to act with a focus on territories, businesses and people,” warned Ségolène Royal.

The expert argued that “the oceans are a source of food, recreation, inspiration and also employment and income for coastal communities. Through their exploration and knowledge, we can protect important marine habitats and rebuild fish stocks, ensuring that future generations inherit healthy oceans that support coastal communities.

Grethel Aguilar, Deputy Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said that “a special effort must be made to include marginalized groups and, above all, to involve women, youth, local communities and indigenous peoples in investments that implement nature-based solutions.”

To which he added: “In this way, we will have a true and lasting economic recovery that contributes to human well-being and reduces inequality and pressures on the planet.”

“Women, youth, local communities, and indigenous peoples must be involved in nature-based solutions,” added Grethel Aguilar.

Along these lines, Eva Saldaña, director of Greenpeace Spain, stated that “we have the opportunity to urgently create a green and just recovery, in which civil society is the protagonist, reinventing the system and transforming the economy to go hand in hand with life and the health of the planet.”

Maria Mendiluce, CEO of the global non-profit We Mean Business Coalition, pointed out that “we must do everything in our power for climate action, collaborating all together, businesses, governments and civil society.”

As he recalled, we are at a critical moment and there is no time to lose. Therefore, Mendiluce is encouraged to take action now, because the opportunities to stabilize global warming are rapidly diminishing.

He also highlighted the importance of the G20 and COP26 to be held this year for “the future of humanity”.

Ricardo García, director of the Red Eléctrica Group, also warned of the urgency to act: “The inertia of the climate system is so great that the effect of what we do today will not be seen until 2050”.

In this respect, he assured of REE’s intention to accompany this evolution of the climate system with a transformation of the electricity system that will allow the massive integration of renewable energies and the electrification of the economy.

Biodiversity, the recovery of the oceans, the climate emergency and the path to green prosperity were the focus of last Thursday’s dialogues and round tables. In them, along with those already mentioned, participated Leire Pajín, president of REDS; Jaime de Jaráiz, president and CEO of LG Electronics Iberia; José Luis Gallego, environmental communicator; and Gonzalo Muñoz, High Level Climate Action Champion COP 25.

“The inertia of the climate system is such that the effect of what we do today will not be seen until 2050,” warned Ricardo García.

A social and rural planet

The last day, Friday, was marked by the presentation of REE’s social action approach to contribute, through innovative projects and hand in hand with the third sector, local agents and other companies, to the reduction of territorial, digital, gender and intergenerational inequalities in rural areas.

The person in charge of announcing this was the group’s top manager. Corredor assured that “our network passes through the non-urban environment and therefore our first responsibility is to fight against the inequality experienced in rural areas”.

For this reason, Red Eléctrica intends to bring essential service infrastructures to the territory to, in the words of its president, “guarantee equal access to opportunities, weaving a network of life from the point of view of environmental protection and biodiversity, and putting, even more, focus on social welfare.”

“We want the community not to feel that we have passed through there to install our infrastructures and left, but that we have stayed to improve their lives,” he said.

In a session with an eye on the S of ESG aspects, Corredor recalled that REE has long been committed to environmental sustainability and governance. “Now, with this new approach to social innovation, we want to take a leap forward to make S a real lever for transformation, increasing the impact capacity of our social action and its scalability,” she explained.

The Secretary of State for the Economy and Business Support, Gonzalo García, closed the conference by recalling that “the National Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan is an unprecedented instrument for making the leap in sustainability that we want and need after the pandemic.”

“With the new focus on social innovation we want to take a leap forward to make social issues a real lever for transformation”, announced Corredor.

He was joined by the Secretary of State for Territorial Policy, Alfredo González, who stressed the importance of balanced territorial development because, in his opinion, “taking care of the territory also requires taking care of the people who live in it to guarantee social cohesion and opportunities for all.

Putting an end to inequalities

As announced on Friday, the Red Eléctrica Group is initiating a new line of action in four major critical areas. The first is the territory over which its grid is deployed, mainly in rural areas. To eliminate these imbalances, the company will promote an energy transition marked by entrepreneurship and local innovation.

In this regard, the second area of action is the gap in access to the digital society, for which it wants to promote universal connectivity in the territories in which it operates and digital literacy throughout the population.

To this end, on Friday it announced a project with the NGO Acción contra el Hambre to facilitate the social and labor insertion of vulnerable groups through training in digital skills and knowledge.

The third area is gender inequality. The group made public last week its intention to extend its commitment to gender equality by supporting rural women. It will do so through projects such as the launch of an online trading platform to provide an outlet for the products of small agricultural and livestock businesses run by women through Fademur.

Finally, REE announced its commitment to children and young people through programs that contribute to eliminating early school leaving and educational failure among students in rural areas. It will also promote their training and access to the labor market in professions related to the energy transition.

To this end, the company will expand its collaboration with the High Commission for Child Poverty and with training entities.

Social impact

Investment with social impact, the role of citizens in the face of the climate emergency, and the contribution of companies to a sustainable future were some of the other topics on the table at the last session of the REE conference.

“Impact investment will be more than a moral choice, it will be smart,” said Ronald Cohen.

Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment, remarked that “companies have a commitment to create value for all our stakeholders, for the future of our companies, our communities and our countries”.

He added: “As impact investing shows that it offers a desirable combination of impact and financial return, it will be more than a moral choice: it will be a smart business decision and it will be clear to investors that we can increase returns not in spite of impact, but because of it.

Begoña Gómez, director of the Chair of Competitive Social Transformation at the Complutense University of Madrid, pointed out that “today the new economy demands a different business model, one that not only looks at business but also incorporates social and ecological variables that have a positive impact on the environment”.

Juan Verde, president of the Advanced Leadership Foundation, said that “we must broaden our vision of sustainability beyond environmental issues. Being sustainable means working for the long-term well-being of all people.

“Being sustainable means working for the long-term well-being of all people,” said Juan Verde.

Also participating in the last day were José Juan Ruiz, president of the Sustainability Commission of the Red Eléctrica Group; Clara Martinez-Toledano, from Imperial College London; Mónica Chao, Sustainability Director of IKEA and president of WAS; Cristina Sánchez, executive director of the United Nations Global Compact Spain; Germán Granda, general director of Forética; and Alberto Barreiro, from Transformational Studio.

After three intense days and a weekend in between to reflect on all that has been learned, there is only one thing left to conclude. As Verde reminded us on Friday, this pandemic gives us the opportunity to reset ourselves to do things better.

And no one better than U.S. President Joe Biden to remind us: It’s all about “building back better; that’s the opportunity”.


(Featured image by qimono via Pixabay)

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First published in EL ESPANOL, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Daphne Freeman has worked in the crowdfunding and impact investing industry for the past few years, gaining experience in marketing, and connecting businesses and entrepreneurs in need with the right investors. As a seasoned grant writer as well as financial market journalist, she is passionate about making a social impact in the world. A free spirit, Daphne also enjoys writing and exploring topics of interest, currently CBD, health and beauty, and social media influencers.