The Aga Khan Development Network's Environment and Climate Committee, under the leadership of Prince Rahim Aga Khan, has approved an Environment and Climate Commitment Statement that will guide efforts for the protection of the environment for the entire network across all its geographies.
The Statement has been developed in consultation with all the AKDN agencies including AKU. It is a policy document that frames and articulates AKDN's approach to the environment and climate and thus provides both a directive and guidance for the work that AKU will do in all its efforts. Central to AKDN's path forward is the commitment to net zero carbon operations by 2030, in line with the latest climate science to avoid the worst impacts.
The commitment was made public by Prince Rahim – one of the first times – at AKU's Institute for Global Health and Development's
inaugural SDSN Pakistan seminar. “We want to ensure that in the face of climate change, people not only survive but also thrive," he said in a video message.
Prince Rahim articulated and gave examples to the four overriding principles that will guide AKDN's work in environment and climate change:
Responsible stewardship of the environment – to help restore and protect the natural environment.
Proactive, socially responsible leadership on the most urgent issue of our time – reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon stock.
Leading by example – reduce carbon to net zero across AKDN operations by 2030.
Putting people at the centre – improve quality of life of the most vulnerable such as building climate resilience and partnering widely.
Mentioning the substantial impacts of natural disasters and of climate change on human health and food security, the economic and human losses, as well as climate-induced internal migration in Pakistan, Prince Rahim recognized that while “all of the AKDN agencies working in Pakistan are devoted to making a difference … there is a special role for the Aga Khan University to play in mitigation and adaptation efforts."
The environmental footprint of health care is responsible for some 4 and 5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. “So while we must pursue universal health coverage, in effect we can anticipate that doing so will cause more climate change challenges if we do not develop more sophisticated solutions to ensure we reduce the net emissions of healthcare," he said. As an example, Prince Rahim emphasized the opportunities to use solar energy generation to power the 800 plus health facilities that AKDN operates globally.
AKU has collected detailed data on its greenhouse gas emissions since early 2020 that forms the basis for knowing emissions hotspots and targeting effective decarbonization action: the University plans to have a decarbonization plan ready by mid-2022. Prince Rahim highlighted: “AKU has a leadership role to play in this regard, in making its hospitals green and moving towards carbon neutrality."
Underscoring his personal commitment to this work for the future of the planet, Prince Rahim advocated that “we see increased and accelerated action as a moral imperative. We can and must do more. … We must act together with greater understanding, greater purpose, and greater speed if we are to avoid the worst consequences for the peoples of Pakistan, South Asia, and the world".
Read more about
AKDN's Commitment Statement and its goals for the environment and climate as well as about
AKU's environment and sustainability work.