Intesa Sanpaolo, a key player at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2019 Summit

The Circular Economy is increasingly becoming an opportunity for growth and development in regard to future competitiveness, and a new economic model of increasing international importance. Innovation, technology, the planet, (age, culture, gender) diversity, commitment, growth, economy, leadership... these are all part of a “heady mix for the future”, condensed into one day of meetings, experiences and networking at the Annual Summit of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) - a highly authoritative organisation involved for a considerable time in divulging the Circular Economy model - held in London on 13 June 2019. Since 2015, Intesa Sanpaolo has been the sole Financial Services Global Partner of the EMF and is strongly committed to encouraging the transition to a Circular Economy.

“The diffusion of the Circular Economy model worldwide is making great strides forward”


According to Massimiano Tellini, the Circular Economy Manager at Intesa Sanpaolo’s Innovation Center, “the Summit represented the chance to reaffirm the role of Intesa Sanpaolo as a bank that supports the Circular Economy in practice. Furthermore, the involvement of Gregorio De Felice, Chief Economist at Intesa Sanpaolo, underlined the Group’s unique position and characteristic leadership, particularly at international level”.

The event, which was celebrating its seventh edition, involved over 500 people and over 300 organisations from all over the world, and represented the opportunity for the Foundation to underline its own targets from now until the year 2025. In terms of communication, the EMF intends to reach over one billion people, and to directly involve 20 million; in terms of Design, the aim is to reach 80 million designers worldwide, in the hope that by that date 20 million of them will have adopted the principles of the Circular Economy in their work.


One of the things that struck the organisers and participants most was the increase in numbers - compared to the previous year - of people from the USA and China; the two major world economies. In this context, the active involvement of US companies, local authorities and universities in regard to the issues dealt with at the Summit and in general to the ctivity of the Foundation was noticeable, in contrast with a federal government which, for the moment at least, appears to have other priorities and objectives.

Another thing that marked a significant break with the past, and which was greeted with encouragement, was the presence of the financial sector as a prime enabling factor, presented during the session on the Scaling of the Circular Economy. In fact, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is developing a more comprehensive economic philosophy moving from a "materials intensive” industries approach, which is very close to the historical/scientific background of the Circular Economy itself, towards a more "economic system oriented" approach, which thus shares and develops wide-ranging questions such as finance and technological innovation.

To this end, Intesa Sanpaolo’s testament reconfirmed the Bank’s standing as a key player in, and an important supporter of, the Circular Economy, before the international audience present. In his speech Gregorio De Felice, the Group’s Chief Economist, illustrated the Bank’s real commitment and the three key objectives it intends to pursue, namely: credit in support of the transition towards a Circular Economy; the search for and selection of the most promising start-ups and spin-offs in innovative areas; the diffusion of a Circular Economy culture.

De Felice in particular reminded the audience that Intesa Sanpaolo’s most recent Business Plan made available a credit line of 5 billion euro, at particularly favourable conditions, with the aim of supporting companies to undertake this transformation, and that the Group had earmarked 500 million euro for financing 36 important projects, selected from a total of more than 150 applications. Within this context, the first international market transaction has been stipulated, consisting in the loan of £175,000,000 to Thames Water, the UK’s most important water management company. Intesa Sanpaolo’s Chief Economist then mentioned the announcement made a few days earlier of a specific credit line established in conjunction with the European Investment Bank (EIB) Circular Economy, to the value of 500 million euro, in support of new Circular Economy projects or those currently being developed. Finally, De Felice focused on the launch of the Circular Economy Lab in Milan; a joint venture with the Cariplo Foundation, designed to facilitate circular projects, bring together and sustain start-ups and emergent innovators, and diffuse the culture of innovation, training and education; all of which can favour the Country’s social and cultural growth and development.

Thus, the Summit pointed to the prospect of the strong growth and great economic/social impact of the Circular Economy throughout the world, and confirmed that Europe as well was moving in this direction. In 2016, those sectors pertaining to the Circular Economy generated, at European level, added value of 147 billion euro and investments of 17.5 billion euro, and created over 4 million job opportunities. In December 2015, the European Commission launched the Circular Economy Action Plan (which has been almost completely implemented now), designed to facilitate and encourage the transition to a Circular Economy. Intesa Sanpaolo is actively involved in the EU Commission’s group of experts dealing with the Circular Economy.




June  2019