ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Climate Change on Friday teamed up with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) for collaboration and coordination aimed at livelihood security of people living in the rural areas in general and Gilgit-Baltistan in particular.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the ministry will focus on key areas such as climate change and environmental coordination, matters relating to sustainable development, water and sanitation and sustainable urbanisation.
The ministry will also focus on multilateral environment agreements, national policy and plans regarding ecology, forestry, wildlife, biodiversity and desertification.
The agreement will strengthen cooperation between the ministry and its allied sections/wings and line departments and the AKF and its sister organisations, including the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS).
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According to the agreement, the two sides will cooperate on the shared objective of sustainable socio-economic development and addressing the challenges of climate change in rural areas through promoting knowledge sharing, coordination, research, joint activities, capacity building, policy support and joint resource mobilisation as well as creating opportunities through closer relations.
According to an official in the ministry, both the sides have agreed to provide technical support to mainstream risks from climate change as well as share technical knowledge and model development programmes which would include but not limited to safe and resilient infrastructure, identify hazard and vulnerable areas and its mapping, glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) risks identification and mitigation, water resource conservation and protection and safe water distribution.
The ministry and the foundation will also collaborate in technical and financial support in water, food, livelihoods and energy security of the mountainous and resource poor regions of the country.
Special focus would be on community based afforestation and agro-forestry drives and community based water management and conservation, as well as promote renewable energy.
Both the sides will work to improve access to markets and build awareness and capabilities related to climate change related effects.
From green bonds to ethical portfolios, assessing efforts to grow the pool of planet-friendly capital.
O holy funds
Posted February 1, 2019
Winter 2019 Issue
How the Pope, the Aga Khan and Anglican Church invest
His Holiness Pope Francis
Faithful followers: 1.2 billion Catholics
Fund management body: Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank
Mandate: To serve the global mission of the Catholic Church through the administration of the entrusted assets and providing payment services to the Holy See and related entities. The celebration of human life, creation, and human dignity are fundamental Catholic principles and values that are to guide the institute’s investment choices and always prevail over return consideration.
Assets: €5.3 billion (C$8.2b), of which €3.5 billion (C$5.4b) are assets under management and custody accounts
Returns: Net profit of €31.9 million (C$49.4m) in 2017
Negative screens: Companies that violate or do not fully respect the globally recognized principles of human rights, labour standards, the fight against corruption or the fight against environmental crime
Positive screens: Companies creating a sustainable future, corporate social responsibility leadership, promoting the development of poorer countries
The lowdown: In 2018, the Institute’s Board of Superintendence approved a faith-based approach to apply to all its financial investment, notes board president Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, former CEO of Invesco Europe, who is on a mission to bring the IOR back to its ethical roots. It is difficult to verify how this is working in practice as the IOR does not publicly disclose any of its corporate bond or equity holdings. It does, however, provide its asset allocation breakdown: 97.2% of its €2.4 billion (C$3.7b) in investment securities is composed of government bonds issued by major European countries (core and peripheral), as well as financial and corporate bonds. One of the reasons the Vatican may be weary of holding equity positions and disclosure in general could be because of previous periods of intense scrutiny including in 1968 after media reports revealed controversial investments in Udine, a military weapons manufacturer, and Istituto Farmacologico Serono, a firm that once made birth control pills.
A new foundation, based in the Vatican City, “Quadragesimo anno” was set up in 2018 to create a certification system meant to ensure financial investments are in accordance with the social doctrine of the church, which could be a valuable tool for Catholic faith-based investors.
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan
Faithful followers: 20 million Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims
Fund management body: Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED)
Mandate: To create profitable sustainable enterprises that stimulate job growth, support entrepreneurial activity and contribute to overall economic output in places that lack access to capital, with 100 per cent of profits reinvested in further development.
Assets: 90 companies with 47,000 employees (Financial assets not provided)
Returns: Revenues of US$4.3 billion (C$5.9b) in 2017
Negative screens: None explicitly stated
Positive screens: Companies that provide goods and services essential to economic development, ranging from banking to electric power, agricultural processing, hotels, airlines and telecommunications. (AKFED adheres to an ethical framework that emphasizes the ethics of inclusiveness, education, compassion and sharing, respect for life and health care, sound mind, sustainable environment and good governance)
The lowdown: The fund discloses 78 subsidiary or associated companies (eight of which are publicly traded) spanning 19 countries across five different economic development themes. Many of the investments appear to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, a gold standard for ethical investors. Unlike the IOR, the fund discloses the names of companies it owns, so it is possible to do a partial evaluation on a few key corporate social responsibility indicators. Relative to a global index of comparator companies (MSCI ACWI), the eight publicly traded companies held in the AKFED demonstrated a high rate of tax payment (48% of profits over the past five years), below average female representation on the board (12%) and higher than average CEO-to-average worker pay ratio (160:1), according to analysis by Corporate Knights.
The fund claims impressive impact metrics that include generating electricity for 10 million people and providing quality health care to five million people. Holdings include the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa (Nation Media Group), a hydropower facility that provides half of the power for Uganda (Bujagali Energy), the leading telecoms provider in Afghanistan (Roshan, a certified B Corporation) and the largest commercial bank in Pakistan (Habib Bank, a leader on microcredit and women’s financial inclusion). The latter investment, however, landed the fund in hot water in 2017, when Habib Bank paid out a US$225 million (C$306m) settlement to the New York State Department of Financial Services for compliance failures at its only U.S. branch, which has since been shuttered.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Faithful followers: 85 million Anglicans (Church of England is the mother church of the international Anglican Communion)
Fund management body: The Church Commissioners (largest of three National Investing Bodies)
Mandate: To oversee the church’s endowment, which needs to return a substantial income to “support the church of today and the church of tomorrow.” The ethical investment policy embraces stewardship, engagement and investment exclusions in activities that are materially inconsistent with Christian values.
Assets: £8.3billion (C$14.3b)
Returns: Total return on its investments in 2017 of 7.1%, with an average return of 9.4% per annum over the past 30 years
Negative screens: Indiscriminate weaponry, conventional weapons (>10% turnover), production or distribution of pornography (>3% turnover), any company which earns more than 10% of group revenues from tobacco, gambling, non-military firearms, high interest rate lending, human embryonic cloning, tar sands or thermal coal
Positive screens: Sustainable environmental practice, fair treatment of customers and suppliers, responsible employment practices, conscientiousness with regard to human rights, sensitivity towards the communities in which the church operates, and best corporate governance practice
The lowdown: The Church Commissioners disclose their 20 most valuable property and equity holdings. The fund has relatively large positions in dental supplier Henry Schein and LED-firm Acuity Brands, but unlike the Church of England Pensions Board, does not count Apple, Amazon, Facebook, JP Morgan or Wells Fargo among its top 20 equity holdings. Relative to a global index of comparator companies (MSCI ACWI), the commissioners’ top 20 disclosed equity holdings demonstrated below average rate of tax payment (14% of profits over the past five years), above average female representation on the board (25%) and a higher than average CEO-to-average worker pay ratio (157:1), according to analysis by Corporate Knights.
The paltry 14% of profits paid in taxes is the worst result among prominent religious funds analysed by Corporate Knights and even in the context of engagement stands at odds with the Archbishop of Canterbury lamenting that vast companies “leech off the taxpayer” by not paying their taxes. Relative to its benchmark, the commissioners reported both a higher exposure to climate solution companies (9.7%) and a bigger portfolio carbon footprint (313 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per £1 million of corporate revenue). The Church of England has active campaigns to use the combination of its investor and moral power to combat corporate tax avoidance and assist the transition to a low carbon economy by high carbon global companies through its involvement with the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI).
Portugal: Lisbon's Curry Cabral public hospital to have first surgical robot
Lisbon's Curry Cabral public hospital is to receive Portugal's National Health Service's first surgical robot, the hospital's board announced on Tuesday
Lisbon’s Curry Cabral public hospital is to receive Portugal’s National Health Service’s first surgical robot, the hospital’s board announced on Tuesday.
According to the chair of the Central Lisbon Hospital Centre, Ana Escoval, the first robot for surgeries in the SNS was donated by the Aga Khan Foundation.
Portugal already has several surgical robots in private units, but the SNS did not have one, Escoval said.
“On behalf of the patients, we all have an obligation to find ways to also equip the SNS […].
Any person, poor or wealthy, in our country, who needs or is better treated with robotic surgery, should not be left out due to lack of financial resources,” Escoval told journalist on the sidelines of the inauguration of the intervention radiation unit at Curry Cabral and a tribute to the surgeon Eduardo Barroso.
Surgical robots are used in various specialities as substitutes for the surgeon’s hand, allowing greater precision and less invasive surgeries.
The first SNS robot will be in Curry Cabral, to be installed during the first half of the year.
AKDN renews support for the Support Platform for Syrian students in Portugal
Through this Global Platform, the goal is for Syrians who come to Portugal to continue their academic studies.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has joined the Global Support Platform for Syrian Students to assist Syrian students who come to Portugal to pursue their academic studies.
The signing of the memorandum took place this Wednesday in Lisbon, in the presence of the former President of the Portuguese Republic and founder of this Global Platform, Jorge Sampaio, the President of the FOCUS National Committee, Munir Ahmad, and the Diplomatic Representative of His Highness Aga Khan in Portugal Nazim Ahmad.
The memorandum thus allows to maintain the spirit of collaboration between the Aga Khan Network and the Global Platform which already allowed in 2015 the reception of Syrian students in Portuguese universities, guaranteeing them support during their stay in Portugal.
Aga Khan Development Network attends International Economic Summit in Russia
AKIPRESS.COM - At the invitation of H.E. Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan, His Highness the Aga Khan was represented by Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha who led the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) delegation to the 11th International Economic Summit in Kazan from 24 to 26 April 2019.
On the sidelines of the Summit an Exhibition of AKDN and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was opened by President Minnikhanov who warmly welcomed the decision of the Award’s Steering Committee to hold the prestigious prize-giving ceremony in the historic centre of Kazan, Russian Federation in the autumn of 2019.
“I was pleased to learn about the Aga Khan Development’s work to improve the quality of life of peoples in diverse countries of the world and it is a great honour for us to receive and to be nominated for the Aga Khan Architecture Award this year. Everything that I saw during the exhibition in Kazan inspires me, because everything in this competition is aimed at the benefit of people. Public spaces are the environments where we live,” underlined President Minnikhanov at the opening of the Exhibition.
Jubilee Insurance unveils revolutionary in-patient care program
Jubilee Insurance has Wednesday launched a first of its kind free hospital in-patient beauty therapy service in all major hospitals in the city.
The program named “Recover in Style” seeks to offer a holistic approach to patient care was launched at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.
Rather than focusing on illness, Jubilee Insurance will leverage on the connection between the mind, body, spirit and emotion to enhance the overall well-being of our members.
Beauty therapy has an important therapeutic role beyond cosmetics and aesthetics as it offers an individual an overall sense of well-being and enhanced self-esteem. Clinical evidence has shown this positive emotional and mental state results in quicker recovery from physical illness.
Tajik mobile operator Tcell, owned by Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has announced that it is the first cellco in the country to receive a commercial 5G licence, also claiming that it will ‘launch the first 5G network in Central Asia’. A company press release lacked details such as 5G spectrum band(s) allocated or launch timeframe, however. The release highlighted how ‘the introduction of 5G technology will allow Tcell to create a new technological basis for Tajik society’, supporting ‘government e-services, smart cities and innovative entrepreneurs’, adding that ‘for the full implementation and development of … 5G services, Tcell has to do a lot of work and make considerable investments to prepare the existing platform. Tcell has already started this investment.’
The release went on to say: ‘For 5G, it is necessary to identify new frequencies that will provide a higher speed and a denser coverage. Also, an infrastructure update is needed: 5G will work in parallel with 4G and 3G, and smartphones will switch between networks. This is a very large amount of work and a bold move, but 5G is not far off, and Tcell expects very soon to please subscribers, all Tajik people and guests of the country with the amazing possibilities of this technological breakthrough.’
Many people would probably think that traveling to Afghanistan must be a very dangerous proposition.
But the truth is, a trip to the once war-torn Central Asian country through the Wakhan Corridor can offer another kind of traveling experience.
The Wakhan Corridor is a mountainous and rugged panhandle in the far northeastern area of Afghanistan that projects deep into Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.
The salient was off-limits to the Taliban even at the height of its power, mainly due to its difficult terrain.
Besides, not only is the Wakhan Corridor widely considered the only safe region for travel across the entire Afghanistan, but it is also – and this is perhaps relatively little known – an important channel through which the country is drawing foreign currencies.
Recently, I have taken a trip to the Wakhan Corridor from across the Afghan-Tajikistan border.
The trip wasn’t originally on my itinerary, and the main reason why I suddenly changed my traveling plan is that it is a “convenient” way to enter Afghanistan.
Yes, it is convenient because Afghanistan has established a consulate in a small border town in Tajikistan, where international travelers can apply for fast-track Afghan visas at a cost of US$150.
Although that’s pretty expensive, there is still considerable demand for them.
And when I said “fast-track”, I meant it was really fast: I submitted my application at 9:30 a.m. and got my visa approved at around 11 a.m.
However, apart from paying US$150, you also have to sign a liability waiver to prove that you are entering Afghanistan voluntarily rather than “being sent” there, and that you agree to travel into the country at your own risk, before you can get your visa approved.
The nearest Taliban position in the Wakhan Corridor is around six hours’ drive from its rural villages.
Although it isn’t really that far away, the Taliban insurgents rarely, if not never, set foot on these villages that lie deep in the Pamir Mountains because it is simply not “cost-effective” for them to do so.
As a result, the Wakhan Corridor has become “another Afghanistan” that is relatively safer and more tranquil.
Of course, there is no such thing as absolute safety in reality, and that applies to the Wakhan Corridor as well.
Two years ago, a retreating group of Taliban troops launched a surprise attack against another small town along the Afghan-Tajikistan border.
Many locals in the Wakhan Corridor still have haunting memories about the Taliban. Even though they themselves have remained relatively safe in the area over the years, many of their friends and relatives were killed in other parts of Afghanistan during the Taliban reign.
Still, the area serves as a valuable buffer zone.
Perhaps what impressed me most about the Wakhan Corridor are the local schools.
Ever since the fall of the Taliban regime, the Afghans have generally attached huge importance to education.
And across the Wakhan Corridor, village schools are subsidized by the local authorities, and kids, in general, can go to school, although on foot under most circumstances.
That explains why kids in school uniforms can often be seen steering their way through the valleys.
In these schools, teachers can speak foreign languages, and have access to online social media. Their biggest hope is that the outside world can once again regard Afghanistan as a “civilized paradise”.
As a matter of fact, quite a number of education projects in Central Asia are funded by the Aga Khan fund.
The Aga Khan is the hereditary leader of Ismailism, a Shia denomination that is very modernized, and is therefore seen by the Islamic fundamentalists, including the Taliban, as a heretical order.
Education is on top of the Aga Khan’s agenda. In recent years, his denomination has set up the University of Central Asia, which has three different campuses in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
I have paid a visit to the university, and believe it or not, I felt that their facilities are even better than those of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
These campuses are all built in the mountain regions of the three countries, with a view to improving the education level of the next generation in these rural areas.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 14
Nick Mlowe: Driving progress for Mtwara’s poorest farmers
In 2017, the Aga Khan Foundation’s (AKF) farm livelihoods and natural resources management interventions benefitted over one million people worldwide. In Tanzania, an AKF staff member met with one of those farmers to learn how he is working with local smallholder farmers to create an agricultural model where everyone benefits.
Nickson “Nick” Mlowe, a 26-year-old Tanzanian farmer from Mtwara, is a very busy man. In one moment, he’s ploughing fields. The next, he’s fixing farm equipment. A fractured melody of barked orders bounces off the dirt road as we venture onto his property. As we proceed, it becomes clear that our presence is throwing a spanner in the works of a perfectly functioning, albeit wonderfully chaotic, machine. Still, Nick greets us warmly and ushers us towards a set of four steps leading into an adjacent building. I look around, wondering why we have stopped here, before my guide clarifies with a wry smile, “This is our field office. Have a seat!”
Nick is the farm manager at Changarawe, a 40-acre farm. He arrived at Changarawe by way of the Sokoine University of Agriculture, in Morogoro, about 200 kilometres from Dar es Salaam. Today, under Nick’s supervision, Changarawe produces sweet peppers, green, red and yellow capsicum, tomatoes and watermelon.
A few years ago, Nick and Changarawe faced major challenges when it came to producing red capsicum, for which there is growing demand in Tanzania. At the time, Nick estimated that Changarawe produced about 1,000 kilogrammes of capsicum per month. Limited access to markets meant that approximately 30% of the harvest was being lost to spoilage – a monetary loss of approximately 450,000 Tanzanian Shillings (US$ 195) per type of capsicum per month. Another challenge was a lack of technical knowledge amongst farm staff, particularly around greenhouse management – a crucial element to the successful cultivation of capsicum.
As part of its GIZ-funded Food Value Chain Development Project, the Aga Khan Foundation connected Nick with Ramosh, a buyer in Dar es Salaam. Today, as a result, the farm is able to move produce to market much faster. Impressed by the quality of Changarawe’s product, Ramosh is now sourcing one megatonne of capsicum per week from the farm and has expressed interest in purchasing butternut squash, beetroot, sweet melon, English cucumber and eggplant.
In Mozambique, where two out of five children are malnourished, programmes of the Aga Khan Foundation – with the support of Global Affairs Canada – have helped train communities to harvest essential crops and prepare nutritious meals. Using a community approach to combat malnutrition, members of a village come together to learn about proper nutrition, and the nutrient-rich foods that are available locally. Working together, they educate their neighbours and organise gatherings to share nutritious meals.
Watch this short video, Tomas’s Story: How a peanut can save a life, where we meet Ruquia and her son Tomas from the village of Pitolha – and learn how Ruquia credits the nutrition group for saving Tomas’s life.
Despite progress, 800 million people worldwide still live in extreme poverty, many of them in remote parts of the world. To alleviate poverty in these remote areas, the Aga Khan Foundation pioneered village-based development. Given the right tools, villagers mobilised to build roads, bridges, schools and clinics, water and sanitation systems and mini hydroelectric plants. They increased yields of essential crops and raised household incomes. Watch this video to find out more.
Madagascar celebrates its Independence Day every 26 June. This is the date in 1960 when its complete independence from France was achieved and recognised. Since 2005 the Aga Khan Development Network has been undertaking development activities in both rural and urban contexts in various parts of the country, working across agriculture, nutrition, climate adaptation, access to finance, improving value chains, and creating market linkages. These photos capture the faces of some of the 82’000 beneficiaries who we’ve reached across the regions of Sofia, Diana and Analamanga.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, in one year 13 million hectares of forests are destroyed at the expense of man’s agricultural, industrial and domestic needs. We are losing about 200 square kilometres of forest every day. By absorbing water and holding soil in place, forests reduce the risk of floods and mudslides that result from natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. In poor, rural areas where populations depend on burning firewood to cook and heat their homes, the rapid reduction in forest cover is leaving communities at increasing risk of disaster, loss and a vicious cycle of poverty.
In April 2018 we visited a pilot programme in Diana, Madagascar where the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) was introducing biogas as an alternative cooking fuel to firewood. Using a biodigester – putting cow manure in one end and getting odorless cooking gas from the other – protects the environment against deforestation, as it can help economise up to 5 kilogrammes of firewood or 8 kilogrammes of carbon fossil per day. Using gas for stove-top cooking also reduces smoke fumes in the house, which are often the cause of respiratory diseases in poor, rural households. Lastly, the time previously spent on chopping, drying and preparing firewood is freed up for income-generating activities.
Martinique Boeny was selected for the pilot because she owned cattle whose excrement could fuel a biodigester. So once she sourced the cement and other materials necessary to build the biodigester, AKF taught her how to build it. During our visit, Mrs Martinique showed us how the cattle were fed bano grasse to increase the volume of waste produced (a technique taught by AKF), which was then transferred to the biodigester and fermented there, generating biogas that then traveled through pipes leading into the kitchen, fueling Mrs Martinique’s rice cooker and gas oven that was provided by the programme.
The incredible story of Egypt’s Museum of Islamic Art
The name was changed to the Museum of Islamic Art in 1952 at the start of the July 23 Revolution. The artifacts were displayed in 25 halls, divided up according to their age and materials. On Aug. 14, 2010, former President Hosni Mubarak officially reopened the museum following an eight-year project to develop and renovate it. The work was supported by the Aga Khan Foundation and carried out with the assistance of specialists from France.
Qatar Airways Subsidies Continue to Undermine Competition in Vital Transatlantic Routes
Commercial aviation in international markets has never come under the disciplines of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is instead loosely governed under a system of bilateral and sometimes regional “Open Skies” agreements which embody rules establishing mutually beneficial rights for services between signatory countries. The U.S. has over 120 separate agreements which generally promote flexibility in setting schedules, fares and capacity between the parties. They require non-discriminatory treatment of carriers in the markets of each participant. Most agreements require that each party provide a fair and equal opportunity to compete on generally accepted commercial terms for both landing rights and associated support services such as financing and provision of airports and ground transport. The most important exception to the functioning of this system comes from the large and growing competition from subsidized carriers in the Gulf states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
While the history of commercial aviation in its early years was dominated by state-owned (and often subsidized) carriers, in the last three decades the industry has moved toward a private sector model. Open Skies agreements have proliferated since 1992 in response to this new model and accommodate the huge growth in traffic. The commitment to use generally accepted commercial terms is the only effective check on government subsidies in the absence of WTO rules.
The biggest outliers to this model, although not the only ones, are the three Middle East-based carriers: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines. Since the mid-1980s Emirates has become the world’s largest carrier in terms of capacity, and along with the others is rapidly taking market share from traditional carriers in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Hong Kong, to name a few of the hardest hit. The U.S. lost six percent of its total international market share after 2007. Its market share declined from 48 percent to seven percent in travel to and from the Middle East. Massive subsidies approaching $50 billion to the oil-rich Middle East carriers have fueled this growth.
In late 2017 and early 2018 the U.S. State Department signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar under Article 15 of their respective Open Skies agreements to “seek disciplines on subsidies, transparency and state-owned enterprises.” High level support by the U.S. government was signaled by the presence of both then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the signing ceremony for the Qatari MOU.
While the evidence is not yet clear regarding a major rollback of subsidies under the MOUs, the new transparency requirements have allowed documentation of a major breach on the part of Qatar. In late 2017 Qatar bought a 49 percent stake in bankrupt Italian domestic airline Meridiana. The majority stake was retained by the Aga Khan Charitable Foundation. Meridiana was soon rebranded as Air Italy and its aging fleet of 11 Boeing 767s began to be retired and replaced by its new Qatar Airlines investor with Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A330s. This would allow expansion of the previously short-haul domestic dominated carrier to major international routes. There is no evidence of how Air Italy is to pay for this massive transfer worth billions of dollars from the Qatar order-book to modernize its fleet.
Multi-Input Area Development—Global Development Alliance (March 2013 - June 2018)
Published on 11 Jul 2019
The Multi-Input Area Development—Global Development Alliance (MIAD-GDA) was a partnership between USAID and the Aga Khan Development Network to improve the quality of life in Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province by strengthening health, education, livelihoods, and governance. The project linked Afghanistan’s public and private sectors to foster sustainable social and economic development. USAID and Aga Khan each invested just over $22 million to fund the Global Development Alliance.
Leave wholesome planet better than you found it for our successors
Thursday July 11 2019
The government, the commercial sector and civil society all have a responsibility to create an environment of interacting forces for development.
Kenya has shown continuous and unwavering efforts to protect the environment and preserve its natural resources
The AKDN is a private network of 11 commercial as well as not-for-profit agencies that has a 100-year legacy in Kenya.
Man is God’s noblest creation to whom He has entrusted the stewardship of all that is on earth.
By AZIM LAKHANI
There is a photograph of a tree in my office, taken by Prince Hussain Aga Khan and used in a campaign where the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) planted more than 10 million trees in Kenya to support the government’s pledge to increase forest cover.
It often reminds me of my presentation at a World Bank consultative meeting in Johannesburg on its “World Development Report 2000/1” on values, norms and poverty themes. Among the AKDN ethics and values I covered was stewardship, collective responsibility to leave the planet better than we found it.
I came across many more examples of how this notion is reality, not rhetoric, within AKDN in Kenya. For example, 40 years ago, Serena Hotels pioneered a form of tourism combining meeting development objectives with economic sustainability, viability and conservation of the environment. Releasing over 50,000 hatchlings into the sea to protect turtles, maintaining a butterfly house to protect species and launching Kenya’s first fully solar-powered, off-grid lodge at Kilaguni are testimony to this. Recently, the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications produced four seasons of Giving Nature a Voice, a documentary series by eight-time Emmy Award winner Andrew Tkach that has been aired weekly on NTV.
A pioneering initiative by Property Development and Management, Vienna Court, is the first green building in the region, with Leadership and Environmental Design certification from the US Green Building Council.
The Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) ensure over 70,000 farms benefit from sustainable farming practices, for example, through over 10,000 water pans used to harvest and store rainwater for irrigation. IPS demonstrate the ‘circular economy’ — waste from one initiative becoming an input for another.
Schools of the Aga Khan Education Service and the Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa ensure that future generations are prepared for stewardship, through engagement. Examples include a biodigester that processes gray water from showers and toilets to maintain their gardens; research projects that address air pollution, water purification and global warming; sustainability initiatives like the study of hydroponics and affordable container housing; and science projects that address food-waste management and rainwater harvesting.
Kenya has shown continuous and unwavering efforts to protect the environment and preserve its natural resources, as exemplified by the Ban Plastics and the Clean Seas Campaigns; co-chairing of the UN General Assembly Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); and hosting the international Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.
AKDN and the Ismaili Community have shown solidarity with these efforts, for example by hosting Fragile Beauty, an exhibition of Prince Hussain’s marine photographs depicting the hidden beauty that is at risk underwater; and the Aga Khan Council hosting Kenya’s creative and innovative Flip Flopi dhow (a seaworthy vessel, made from waste plastic, that sailed from Lamu to Zanzibar) at its premises in Parklands.
Others include an expert panel discussion, “How do we preserve our natural assets while building the economy?”, in the presence of the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry for the Environment and Forestry.
The government, the commercial sector and civil society all have a responsibility to create an environment of interacting forces for development.
The AKDN is a private network of 11 commercial as well as not-for-profit agencies that has a 100-year legacy in Kenya, reaching millions of Kenyans annually without regard to gender, race, ethnicity or religion. It has a presence in the health, education, social development, finance, economic development, media, hospitality, culture, heritage and research sectors in over 33 counties. It directly employs over 16,000 staff, with just under one per cent expatriates.
His Highness the Aga Khan is the Imam (spiritual leader) of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims, and the Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network. In Washington, D.C., in January 2005, on receiving the National Building Museum’s Vincent Scully Prize, he said: “In Islam, the Holy Quran says that man is God’s noblest creation to whom He has entrusted the stewardship of all that is on earth. Each generation must leave for its successors a wholesome and sustainable social and physical environment.”
As we mark the 62nd year in office, the Ismaili Imamat, by His Highness today, these examples highlight stewardship by AKDN’s 175 initiatives in Kenya.
Dr Lakhani is the Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in Kenya.
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