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Starace’s speech at Davos 2021

Francesco Starace: urban centers must be the core of sustainable future 


Change must start from cities: Enel’s CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace confirmed this during his speech at the inaugural session of the Davos 2021 World Economic Forum, which took place on January 25, 2021 and was dedicated to net zero carbon cities. “What occurs in cities is a driver for the world’s development”: this is where we have to start in order to reduce emissions. It is no coincidence that Enel has decided to focus on urban centers, where “most of this planet’s population lives” and where pollution levels are the highest.

Francesco Starace went on to emphasize how, throughout history, humans have shaped cities according to the needs of the moment. Today, a new change is therefore necessary to reduce the impact that our activities and industry have on the environment around us. Several questions stem from this premise, which Enel’s CEO and General Manager included in his speech: “How can we transition to clean electrification and ultra-efficiency buildings? How can we increase the circularity of cities’ economy? Answers are very fragmented because each technology has its own way and gives its own recipe. But how can a city do it all at once? The question is: how can we decarbonize and accelerate the trend of possible change, to make our cities increasingly more efficient?”. The answer lies in our ability to collaborate, “by calling on local and national public administrations, private sector operators and civil society to take on a common agenda to reduce emissions”.

“We need to focus on cities in order to reduce emissions. What occurs in cities is a driver for the world’s development”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

The challenge is therefore to decide what to do with cities, according to Francesco Starace: “2020 was a year of disruption, during which the importance of cities’ livability emerged. We now expect 2021 to be the year in which we decide what we need to do to accelerate the transition globally, which rules we want to set, and how to best use technologies to make our cities more efficient. This must be our focus for the next twelve months”. The guidelines for 2021 have already been identified and aim at re-launching and implementing smart city projects on “energy efficiency, improvement of citizens’ quality of life and clean mobility, with best practices and a dedicated toolbox to concretely solve problems”.

This is the vision set by “Net Zero Carbon Cities: An Integrated Approach”, a report jointly created by Enel, Schneider Electric and the World Economic Forum. “We have put together an incredible group to assemble and harmonize our experiences, in order to make cities more efficient”: the report was presented at the inaugural session by Francesco Starace and Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Jean-Pascal Tricoire, and describes the vision to accelerate decarbonization and resiliency initiatives in cities around the world. In particular, the report shows how effective an integrated energy approach is in helping the achievement of “systemic efficiency”, thus offering successful solutions to current environmental, economic, health and social crises. Clean electrification, smart digital technology, efficient buildings and infrastructures – along with a circular economy approach to water, waste and materials of all types – are part of such “systemic efficiency”, a model that gives cities the opportunity to increase their resilience and ability to withstand potential future climate- or health-related crises.


Enel editorial staff