The world of transport must equip itself for the sustainable revolution. What may have seemed like a dream of utopia is now a real obligation imposed by European legislation, not to mention a requirement for satisfying an increasingly demanding and informed consumer. We spoke about this with Roberto Verano, President of ConfMobility, which was founded in Italy in 2020 to guide transport companies through this crucial change.
President, before tackling sustainability, can you tell us something about ConfMobility?
ConfMobility is a group of companies that have chosen to stand by other companies in the challenging process of change that sustainability imposes on the whole transport sector. We are not a trade association, nor do we have any political aims. We have been providing consultancy and training in this sector for years, and this role has made us feel a strong responsibility to act during this 'revolutionary’ time with a commitment to supporting a culture of sustainability.
From your vantage point, where are we on the path to a sustainable breakthrough? What progress has been made and what are the critical issues?
Today we are experiencing a complex economic cycle that is part of an already difficult economic environment. Given this, major changes will have to be made in short order. Italy has only begun its journey to sustainable mobility, although there are some fixed points from which to start, the foremost being the 2030 UN agenda, which sets out clear objectives that we need to know in detail how to implement. Another element we must factor in is the evolution of customers: the needs of those who use freight transport services are changing rapidly, pushing us more and more in the direction of Green certified transport. For years, other sectors have been working on raw materials, their sustainability and the importance of recycling, and now there is a growing demand for sustainable transport of these materials as well. Increasingly, transport companies will be chosen not only for the good price/quality ratio of their services, but also for their ability to guarantee sustainable and certified transport. And here I must admit that in Italy history is still to be written. This is why we felt it was our duty to stay close to companies, to provide them with concrete support to keep them up to date on regulations, funding and important market content in general. We want to encourage growth in the sector and to stimulate networking as well. To create, in essence, helpful cross-pollination between different areas so we can promote the growth of road transport together.
Let's talk specifically about road hauling. Which sustainability goals do you think the sector should set itself in the short and long terms?
I am starting with the short-term targets, of course, those that are related to the reduction of emissions that Brussels requires by law. In this sense, it will be necessary for entrepreneurs to revisit and modernise their vehicle fleets, but also to aim to change the organisational structure of their companies, certifying them as Green, committing themselves to involving travelling personnel in the training, so that they drive safely as well as in an environmentally friendly way.
Once this approach has been adopted, it will be necessary to learn to think in the long term, making these choices the structural elements of our reality, because this is the only way to be competitive. Basically, only those who structure themselves as sustainable companies in all their components and processes will be able to survive on the market. Today, those who choose to buy 'Green' want to be sure that not only is the product Green, but so is the entire supply chain that brought it to them. A consumer who chooses a sustainable product would feel betrayed if he learned that it was being transported in a polluting way.
What role does training play in this change of mentality? Where do you think it should be directed the most?
Training is fundamental to the evolution of any business cycle: it is the only way to be competitive. It is only through training that one acquires the skills to overcome challenges. Today we are faced with an extremely specific challenge - sustainable mobility - because we still do not know the extent of it, which is why training becomes a fundamental lever for evolution. We must address the topics that are changing the current landscape: digitalisation, because it is critical that we understand the potential of different technologies and learn how to use them in the best possible way, and, of course, the ecological transition, which will include Eco Drive, safety, and the use of electricity, to name but a few examples.
With regard to whom should be trained, I would say that the first link to start with is the entrepreneur, but training must cascade to involve the whole company, including all its components. This is a cultural path that organisations large and small alike are called to take. Because now, becoming sustainable is simply no longer a choice: it is essential to staying in the market. Anyone who does not make these changes soon will be out. That's why we believe that the big work to be done in the sector is to aim for a change in mentality: we need to understand that sustainability is not just a corporate issue, but a much broader issue of corporate culture. It is not an option, but a strategic choice.
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