Commitments to sustainability
AKU takes seriously its responsibility to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.
The University commits to making a positive impact through outstanding environmental sustainability performance, and to harness the full range of the University's expertise and influence for this purpose. AKU recognizes that it has an impact on the environment at local, national and global levels, and aims to address and reduce its footprint at each stage.
AKDN Environment and Climate Commitment Statement
The Aga Khan University's commitment to sustainability is guided by the Aga Khan Development Network's (AKDN) ambitious goals, as detailed in the AKDN Environment and Climate Commitment Statement.pdf. The statement was developed based on the experience and inputs from across the network, and covers four principles:
Responsible Stewardship of the Environment,
Focusing on Quality of Life of the Poorest and Most Vulnerable,
Leading by Example: AKDN's Net Zero Goal,
Influencing Wider Change: Engaging with AKDN's Partners and Value Chain.
AKU's first-ever Environment and Decarbonisation Plan
As part of implementing AKDN’s net zero commitment, AKU devised its first Environment and Decarbonisation Plan in mid-2022. It involved a collaborative process involving all Departments in all AKU geographies with responsibilities for emissions and environmental matters. It is built on the detailed emissions accounting and benchmarking undertaken by AKU since mid-2020.
The approval process included a thorough review by AKU Finance and approvals by AKU’s internal governance mechanisms. The plan was also highly endorsed by AKU’s Board of Trustees.
The comprehensive plan identifies over 100 measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve environmental aspects. Each measure has been costed for investment needs, with savings in operational expense and emissions expected over time.
The measures can be clustered into 4 main areas:
- Renewable energy (solar photovoltaic, solar water heating, biomass)
- Energy efficiency (replacing energy-intensive products with lower energy ones)
- Practice changes (esp. in anesthesia, management of waste, water, and fleet)
- Decarbonizing buildings and processes (e.g., insulation, window film)
All identified measures could be implemented by 2025, which will result in emissions savings of 26% from the 2021 baseline. The hope is to reinvest the money saved into implementing new measures, which will be identified and implemented on an ongoing basis.
Moreover, a section of the plan proposed influencing reductions in supply chain emissions by engaging our 5000+ suppliers as well as re-assessing our own demand and use of products. The plan also suggested some environmental measures such as reducing water consumption and improving waste management. To further identify opportunities to leverage and integrate sustainability, it includes a stock take of climate-relevant academic work at AKU.
The development of the plan revealed that:
- Reducing emissions in line with science (to meet globally agreed goals) is possible, even in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), and in health care, which is an emission-intensive sector.
- Mitigating climate change (i.e., emission reduction) is good business that saves money: the average pay-back period across all identified measures is less than 4 years.
- Calculating emissions is crucial to identify emission hot spots and suggest corrective measures: we used our internally developed and bespoke AKDN Carbon Management Tool
- Creating buy-in to support implementation requires horizontal involvement across the institution.
- Decarbonizing our supply chain is driven by innovation and learning, and engagement with our suppliers to date shows high interest.
This plan brings AKU well on the way to fulfilling the goals laid out in the AKDN Environment and Climate Commitment Statement, in particular, the goal of achieving operational net zero by 2030.
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