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The ‘green and blue’ economy: environment and innovation Enel, Pirelli and Intesa listed in the Dow Jones index

Green for the environment. Blue for innovation. These are the two colours of the likely and very timely transformation of the economy, ‘a paradigm shift’ towards quality development. They are very relevant to the reflections of Luciano Floridi, a philosopher at Oxford (he runs the Digital Ethics Lab) and one of the most authoritative international scholars on the ‘infosphere‘, the environment of digital and personal connections that we live in (his last two books in Italian, published by Raffaello Cortina editore, are Pensare l’infosfera (‘Thinking about the infosphere’) from 2019 and Il verde e il blu (‘Green and blue’) from 2020). We are living through the ‘fourth revolution‘, explains Floridi, after those of Copernicus who proposed that the earth was not the centre of the universe, Darwin who proposed the theory of man’s biological evolution and Freud who went beyond the conscious mind. Now, ‘with digital, we interact with objects that do things in our place and challenge our sense of uniqueness’. Will artificial intelligence prevail? No, but we have to design a new economy of relationships and understand the deep meaning of everything we do. After all, we write the algorithms that enable artificial intelligence. We are always the ones who decide the fate of the Earth through our choices.

The infosphere and ecology meet. The green and the blue. It’s an ambitious, extraordinary cultural project with significant political value: projects, programmes, reform. In the current confusion that we are sadly living through, in search for strategies that will lead us beyond the fragility of our personal and social condition, between the pandemic and recession, the possible ways for a new beginning, a reconstruction, a recovery that is not short-lived, lie at the crossroads between ecology and innovation. After Covid-19, nothing will be the same as it was before. In short, it’s up to us to decide whether we will have a regeneration or plunge into a long period of decline.

The indications coming from the EU are clear: a Recovery Plan built on a green and digital economy, with a view to the next generation. Schools, long term training, research and reforms, to effectively spend the 750 billion euros that are available over the next four years. Politicians, public administrations, companies, social groups and culture all face a long-term, critical challenge.

These are issues of great importance, which fortunately have increasing importance in both Italian and international public discourse. This was discussed at BookCity, in Milan, during a series of digital meetings on sustainable development values. It was also discussed at the Technology Biennial in Turin, which was put on by the city’s polytechnic and saw wide public participation in dozens of debates (all online, of course), linked by an exemplary title: ‘Technology is Humanity’.

It’s a reflection on the new boundaries of science and research. It’s also a critical revival of one of the best periods in the history of the world, our humanism, a unique synthesis of philosophical, literary and artistic knowledge and new scientific knowledge centred around man. It’s certainly no coincidence that when outlining our current values and future horizons, we talk about ‘digital humanism‘, ‘industrial humanism’, ‘polytechnic culture’ or, getting back to Floridi, ‘green and blue’, combining environmental policies with high-tech service economy policies: humanism of the infosphere. Stories by philosophical engineers, or poet engineers, by responsible intellectuals anyway. ‘As Poe teaches us, intelligence is less of a mathematical mind and more of a poetic mind, it is simple and simplified, it produces the simple and simplifies’: these are the words of Leonardo Sciascia, in the pages of For a Future Memory. This is another extraordinary humanistic legacy.

‘Green’ and ‘blue’ is a fertile ground for Italian companies, they have a strong, widespread culture of ‘doing and doing well’, with roots in the regions where they are responsible for development and with competitive values that are linked to people. What’s more, regions where have long had a strong relationship of trust.

Confirmation of this comes from the new Dow Jones sustainability index, which reports annually on the best international companies in terms of sustainability. Enel is at the top this time, with a very high score for its climate strategy and market opportunities in leading the transition to a low-carbon energy model. Other companies that lead the way in sustainability for there sectors include: Pirelli, which is once again a leader in Industry, in the cars and components sector. Moncler, which ranks first among textile and luxury companies. Intesa Sanpaolo, Poste and Hera are also at the top of their sectors. It’s a green wave in companies that appeals to investors’, according to a headline in La Stampa (15 November), which reminds us how the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and S&P Global’s DJ Europe steer the investments of major international operators.

The success of Italian companies is linked to a strategic choice, considering sustainability as a fundamental asset, this is a cornerstone of their competitiveness, the result of a series of commitments made over time and gradually refined in market ratings and in the evaluations of all stakeholders: employees, customers, suppliers and the citizens who live in the areas where the company has business relations. Strong values, with positive economic and social benefits.