Sustainability and digitalisation: a powerful pairing
Environmental concerns and technological advancement are the two biggest trends of our time. Put them together and you have a force for true business transformation
"There are strong correlations between these two factors. Companies that carry out transformation based on these concepts combined are more eligible for future growth"
Marco Cesareo, Digital Business Partner – International Subsidiary Banks
New research from Accenture finds that companies who fully embrace both sustainability and digitalisation are two-and-a-half times more likely to thrive as best performers in the future. It suggests that sustainability and digitalisation can and should be combined to ensure business resilience.
“These are the most important engines of economic growth in the future,” says Marco Cesareo, Digital Business Partner – International Subsidiary Banks. “There are strong correlations between these two factors. Companies that carry out transformation based on these concepts combined are more eligible for future growth.”
Intesa Sanpaolo has always put both sustainability and digitalisation at the top of the agenda. Recent examples are its successful mobile banking app and partnerships with Google to create two large regional data centres in Italy. The bank is also the first financial services strategic partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Intesa Sanpaolo is committed to net zero by 2030 for the bank’s own emissions and by 2050 for its investment and financing portfolios. The bank has also joined net-zero alliances across its businesses.
Its total emissions have been reduced by 60% since 2008. In Italy, it uses 100% renewable energy and it is committed to rolling out renewables to its worldwide business by 2030.
With a focus on sustainability coming from the very top – Cesareo credits Chief Executive Officer Carlo Messina with setting an example for the whole bank – Intesa Sanpaolo has used finance to make a change.
It has launched S-Loans to favour sustainable investments in SME, issued green bonds to cover green mortgages for highly energy-efficient buildings, and supported corporates on green, circular and ecological transition themes, in line with the priorities set out in Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).
In conjunction with the PNRR, the bank will support the green transition by offering close to €90bn in new lending.
Intesa has had a long-standing commitment to technological innovation – it was singled out by Forrester as a digital innovation leader for its widely used banking app – and is committed to finding technological solutions for business through its Innovation Center.
The launch with a €650m investment of Isybank – a new digital-only bank that will serve four million retail customers – is another step forward into innovative banking practices.
The next level up for Intesa Sanpaolo – and perhaps an example to European business across the board – is in further combining these two streams of effort. The Intesa Sanpaolo app, used by nine million customers, is a good example of how technology can reduce the use of physical materials that compromise forests and pollute as waste.
“Every project and delivery has a big impact on sustainability,” says Cesareo, pointing out that the positive environmental impact would be immense if all companies’ projects were designed with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in mind, rather than having ESG as an add-on or simply paying lip service.
The pandemic helped bring many European companies up to speed in terms of digitalisation and this has made an impact on their sustainability profiles. Home working is one example of a digitalisation effort that has led to fewer carbon-intensive commutes.
Marco Cesareo believes this is just the beginning of a transformation that will see companies grow through the mutually beneficial relationship of digitalisation and sustainability. Listen to the podcast to find out more.