The Group has continued to devote ever more attention to Corporate Social Responsibility, with the adoption of the new SDG Sustainable Development Goals issued by the UN, the definition of a broad set of KPIs covering the three dimensions (namely economic, environmental and social), the adoption of the new Sustainability Policy and Human Rights Policy, the improved disclosure and reporting system (with the number of GRI indicators included in its Sustainability Report rising to more than 70) and the implementation of stakeholder engagement initiatives.
Particular attention has been paid to the position in sustainability indexes, with the Group's scoring in the DJSI improving to 76 points (70 points in 2015). In 2016 we generated Economic Value of Euro 1,710 million, 8% more than in 2015.
In the area of human capital development and business organisation, the Group stands out for the innovative people development policies it has adopted. In the course of 2016 it continued to operate several talent development and recruiting programs for both employees and potential candidates: over 1,000 employees have passed through the doors of the Prysmian Group Academy and the new Manufacturing Academy; the Graduate Program, now in its sixth year, has resulted in the recruitment of 50 new high-potential resources; the year saw the launch of a new edition of the "Make it" recruitment program to recruit 50 engineers and technicians, and the launch of the new "Sell It" program for 50 young high-potential sales staff, for a total of some 150 new young recruits to the Group. The YES share purchase plan for employees also continued, with the number of employee-shareholders climbing to almost 9,000, representing over 50% of those eligible.
Expenditure on Research & Development amounted to Euro 84 million, in line with 2015. The major achievements include the launch of the new P-Laser 600 kV cable, which allows increased power transmission capacity at a cost of up to 10% less (per MW transmitted), and the introduction of 600 HVDC kV XLPE and 700 kV PPL cables, which can boost transmission capacity by up to 15%. In the field of inter-array connections for offshore wind farms, the Group has launched the new 66 kV cable, which allows significant savings in wind farm construction and operation costs.
The new Flextube, the optical cable with the highest density in the world with more than 2,000 fibres, represents a major innovation for broadband networks.
Work has continued on developing Pry-Cam, developed by Prysmian Electronics, network monitoring technologies, which are meeting with growing approval: during 2016 a contract was signed with National Grid for online monitoring of its UK networks.
Commitment to environmental stewardship and to the conservation of natural resources is critical to create sustainable value, benefiting both the organization and its stakeholders.
The special attention Prysmian Group pays to the environment is expressed in its unique approach that impacts not only the product's intrinsic characteristics, but also the management of production systems, where the focus is on prevention and reduction of environmental impact through, for example, efficient use of natural resources, optimization of logistics and responsible waste management.
At the beginning of 2016 Prysmian's Health Safety & Environment department, working together with other department and with the backing of the Board of Directors, set the Group's HSE objectives for 2016-2018 based on the environmental performance indicators treated as relevant at Group level. Objectives that werecommunicated to all Country and Business Unit managers while, where possible, individual targets were also set.
The HSE department coordinated the appropriate activities at various levels of the Group's organisation, Corporate, countries or regions, business units and productionunits. OHSAS 18001 certification for the Safety Management System was extended tofive more sites and of ISO 14001 certification to one site. Plants previously certifiedby other organisations migrated to the official certifying body: 4 plants passed to theofficial body for ISO 14001 and 2 plants to that for OHSAS 18001.