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Marshall Plan for Middle America: a roadmap to sustainable development


November 13, 2020

The Center for Sustainable Business at The University of Pittsburgh with the scientific and financial contribution of Enel Foundation and the support of other partners such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released the first "Marshall Plan for Middle America” (MP4MA) Roadmap. The Roadmap - presented on a press conference on November 12 - aims at setting a resilient strategy towards increasing social equity and community well-being, new business and economic opportunities in four Middle American states in the Ohio River Valley: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Research finds Middle American communities are bearing the greater share of the costs of environmental degradation and socio-economic consequences: higher than average poverty and unemployment rates, lower rates of educational attainment and negative health outcomes. All of this underlines a link between socio-economic, environmental and energy dimensions, highlighting the urgency of policies and investments to achieve a structural, equitable and sustainable economic reinvigoration for Middle America; in this way, sustainable development-aligned investments can drive new employment opportunities better aligned with globally growing markets such as renewables.

Strategically the MP4MA Roadmap envisages the Ohio River Valley as a subregion of Middle America that can supplement existing economic foundations and build opportunities focused on clean energy technologies and other innovative industries (e.g. manufacturing electric vehicles).

To draw the Roadmap a cross sectoral coalition has been created, including Enel Foundation that served as a scientific partner throughout the research process and, represented by Mirko Armiento who is one of the authors. The Marshall Plan for Middle America Roadmap was also inspired by previous research undertaken by Enel Foundation. In particular, the Just E-volution 2030 study showed what the future could be and how to realize the opportunities deriving from the ongoing processes of electrification and digitalization. The paradigm of the electricity triangle shows that it is important to focus not only on generation, but also on consumption patterns and smart grids.

As Enel Foundation, we are proud that our insights and studies have contributed to recommend possible pathways for a cleaner, healthier and socially inclusive development of the Ohio River Valley as a frontrunner for the whole Middle America’s area.”

Carlo Papa, Enel Foundation Managing Director

In addition, the study Circular Europe: How to successfully manage the transition from a linear to a circular world inspired the section “Expanding Impact through Circular Economy” and showed how circularity can be a way to build mutually beneficial economic loops across sectors. The Roadmap also emphasized the future developments in the evaluation of financial impacts of social and environmental sustainability. In this regard, the study Hybrid Metrics: Connecting Shared Value to Shareholder Value explained how to foster financial benefits of social and environmental performances of business. Finally, the outcomes of the study “E-Quality: shaping an inclusive energy transition” were considered when discussing the potential impact on citizens and in particular how to protect low-income population and vulnerable communities from uneven distributional effects of climate policies.

The MP4MA Roadmap is intended to be a starting point for conversation and innovation, in order to inspire investments and policy actions, recognizing that a much broader set of contributors must be engaged to begin turning this vision into reality.

Read more about the Marshall Plan for Middle America.

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