2020 had changed our lives and way of working, and 2021 saw those changes progress, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a profound effect on societies across the globe.
The wellbeing of our people has always been a priority for RINA, and our crisis committee continues to closely monitor developments. Our offices remained closed for long periods, and it is only now, as I write, that we are seeing our teams return to those offices on a regular basis, with our ‘smarter working’ policy - already established before the onset of the pandemic - allowing for a measured return which also maintains an important work-life balance.
The European Union’s target of net-zero by 2050 remains an ambitious target, and we continue to strive to make it possible, both internally through our own climate neutrality objectives, and outside our company, working to support our clients and partners, and industry as a whole. Internally, our targets are within sight and, whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly played its part, we remain on target to meet our objectives, working toward the UN 2030 Agenda SDGs through the 12 ESG projects identified in our 2021-2023 Sustainability Plan.
In the field, our work on the hydrogen market has continued apace, and we have taken forward projects in several different areas, including as a support in decarbonising hard-to-abate industries such as steel manufacturing. In line with the Purpose of RINA, “To bring together people, the planet and organisations to anticipate the challenges of the future and improve quality of life”, the work we are carrying out today will be key to supporting industries in the future as hydrogen and other alternative fuels play an increasingly important role in the renewable energy mix, together with carbon capture technologies.
In keeping with our focus on people, in 2021 we placed an important focus on social competencies within the company, providing over 200,000 hours of learning courses covering various ESG themes. Diversity and inclusion, operational excellence, managerial and leadership ability and agile teams were some of the main topics offered to our teams, whilst we also welcomed a new group of Lean Six Sigma graduates across the company.
Finally, as we move forward into 2022, I joined other major business and investment leaders in supporting the proposed revision of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive which, if passed, will see nearly 5 times the number of companies in the EU having to independently verify and publish non-financial information on governance, supply chains, their impacts on the environment, community. I believe this represents another important step for us all in order to be at the forefront of a new economic model to meet the human, social and environmental challenges we are facing today, and build sustainable values for future generations.