ESG: risks and opportunities. Interview with Prof. Carlo Alberto Pratesi

As part of our 49th Italian Pro Bono Roundtable, we hosted the seminar “ESG and Third Sector” attended as Keynote Speaker by Carlo Alberto Pratesi, Professore di Marketing, innovazione e sostenibilità all’Università degli Studi Roma Tre, followed by a debate with panelists Cristina De Luca (CSVnet Board Member), Mauro Del Barba (President, Assobenefit), Stefano Fasani (Program Manager Open-es), Augusto Liani (Nonprofit and Clergy Representative, UniCredit), Giovanni Marsili (Partner, Gianni&Origoni) e Maria Teresa Ricciardi (General Counsel, Fondazione The Human Safety Net).


At the end of the talk, we interviewed Prof. Pratesi on the risks and opportunities related to sustainability.


Prof. Pratesi, how do universities deal with the issue of ESG?

Le Università, essendo un servizio, si sono sentite a lungo un po’ fuori dall’esigenza di investire nella sostenibilità. Today this is no longer the case; on the contrary, universities are now competing with each other to prove that they are increasingly sustainable.
This can be done in two ways: on the one hand, by reducing energy consumption, not only that inherent to the universities themselves, but related to the journeys of lecturers and students to get to the places where lectures are held, for example.
The second way in which they engage is also by producing knowledge and awareness on sustainability issues, thus including courses, seminars, workshops that help students to understand what the challenges of sustainability are and how to deal with them.
Today there are even rankings that put universities in order on these aspects.

What are the risks and opportunities related to ESG?

The risk is that companies do not take the issue seriously, considering it still an optional choice. In reality it is a prerequisite, an obligation for survival: those who do not take it seriously today may find themselves in trouble tomorrow, when some of the things that are voluntary today become mandatory.
Since it takes years to go from doing nothing to getting results, those who delay may find themselves out of the market.

The opportunities, on the other hand, are there for those companies that by moving first, not in an absolute sense, but in their own sector, could make the same investment that the laggards will have to make, but by doing it first they could gain a reputational and positioning advantage. Since it has to be done, we might as well be the first to do it.

How important is collaboration between different realities when it comes to sustainability?

There is no sustainability if there is no collaboration. Any project that starts without collaboration between Public and Private, Profit and Non-profit is a very weak project.
From my point of view, universities can produce all the scientific evidence needed to make the right choices and decisions. The State must regulate and must naturally facilitate the most innovative companies and organisations. Citizens, private individuals, must also get involved because sustainability often starts at home, in their own businesses.
So I would say that, never as in this case, the result is the product of all the actions done by all the actors. All it takes is for one of the actors to do zero and, as with all products, the equation comes to zero. All the efforts made by the others remain at zero.


For those who were unable to attend in person or follow the event via streaming
a recording of the event and seminar is available on our YouTube channel.