Environment and climate is a core strategic priority and cross-cutting theme for the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Alongside AKDN, AKU is committed to achieve net zero carbon operations within this decade, in recognition of the importance of protecting the environment and using resources responsibly. Two guiding principles in this work are leading by example and sharing our learnings for wider societal change.
AKU has over 5000 suppliers and it recognises their role as its critical partners in raising climate ambition and accelerating climate action. To this end, and building on AKU’s role as a university for addressing global issues, local manufacturers in Pakistan were invited to attend a workshop on ‘Partnering for Climate Action’ on the 8th of March 2023.
As part of the workshop opening, Dr Mairaj Shah, Chief Operating Officer of the Aga Khan University Hospital, reflected on 40 years of AKU “that started with a vision that transformed into actions. We are now unstoppable on the path of excellence and community is one of our main partners.” Miriam Kugele, Global Head of Environment and Sustainability, introduced AKDN’s climate goals and AKU’s achievements to date, suggesting that “not only is technology ready, but with some investments in human capacity the investments in climate mitigation and environmental action show to be good business decisions.” Elaborating on AKU’s innovations in carbon management, Karim Ashraf as Manager for Group Purchasing Programs also shared the learnings AKU has developed over more than two years of operational and supply chain accounting.
“AKU is now celebrating 40 years and is recognized amongst the top 2% of universities worldwide” shared AKU President Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin. He continued to inspire by adding: “This wouldn’t have been possible without our partners and the value added relationships. Addressing the climate agenda is the most critical issue of our time, and it is difficult. We can only do it if we decide to work together as key actors of society. Whatever we do, we have to keep sustainability at the forefront”.
The central part of the workshop was an interactive groupwork activity, around four central questions to make progress on the sustainability agenda. The questions included external and internal factors to pursue and accelerate climate ambition, as well as required incentives and the landscape of stakeholders to support. All participants shared their experiences, resulting in a forward looking and positive outlook for the way forward. This activity was most appreciated by all participants.
Before closing, a representative from Getz Pharma spoke about their experiences and work on green buildings as a central part to ensure energy and emissions reductions in the long term, and emphasized that investing in technology and in people goes hand in hand. Director of AKU’s Procurement and Supply Chain Management Division, Malik Ahmed, closed the workshop by emphasizing that “it is our responsibility to shape a better world for the next generation. Together, we can achieve a lot.” The success of the workshop was also due to the leadership and guidance of Nizar J. Somji, Director General Campus Planning and Development at AKU.
With more than 70 company representatives including CEOs, CFOs and EHS specialists present, and colleagues from other AKDN institutions (Habib Bank Ltd, Aga Khan Foundation, and Aga Khan Health Service), the workshop provided a much-needed forum for learning, sharing experiences, understanding needs, and initiating a network of sustainability practice in Pakistan. One of the participations reflected gratitude for “such an engaging and informative event. The speakers were passionate, and the interactive sessions were particularly valuable. The workshop has inspired our company to take action and make a positive impact on the environment.” All attending, guided by the female participants on account of International Women’s Day, planted a tree at AKU’s Stadium Road campus to embrace in knowledge and in practice the need for sustainability action.