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Accelerating the Reduction of the Environmental Footprint of Humanitarian Fleets

Accelerating the Reduction of the Environmental Footprint of Humanitarian Fleets through Partnerships: A Path to Collective Impact

Location: Aidex, Geneva

In a Fleet Forum panel session at AidEx, experts from the field of humanitarian fleets gathered to discuss the pivotal role of partnerships in accelerating the reduction of the environmental footprint.

The panel, titled "Accelerating the Reduction of the Environmental Footprint of Humanitarian Fleets through Partnerships," brought together thought leaders, practitioners, and innovators to share insights and practical examples on how collaborative efforts can yield a collective impact greater than the sum of individual endeavors.

Making powerful commitments to sustainable fleet management

The panel kicked off with introduction of the Commitments that the Fleet Forum member community signed during the Fleet Forum Summit the day before. The Commitments are seen as a game-changer in providing humanitarian fleets with the tools and information they need to transition to cleaner, more sustainable transportation solutions.

Panel members felt that while the commitments are ambitious, with the pace of global warming, there is potential to be more ambitious. However, given the wide range of members in the Fleet Forum community, it was more important to start working together in a really concrete way. Panel member Bassam Michel Ibrahim (Head of Global Supply Chain Management at Norwegian Refugee Council) remarked “Through the commitments, we are saying very clearly that sustainable fleet is very important to us, and that we are going to drive this”

Practical Examples of Collaborative Efforts

The session showcased practical examples of partnerships that are already making a difference. One such initiative is the Hulo/Fleet Forum vehicle-sharing program, which allows humanitarian organisations to pool their resources and share vehicles to minimise fuel consumption and emissions. Another success story was the sustainable waste management training developed by ICRC which has been made available to all humanitarian fleet operators.

Panel member Carmen Garcia Duro (Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance Project Manager at International Committee of the Red Cross) said: “In ICRC, we are looking very closely at emissions, but this is not the only part of our sustainable fleet program. We are also giving dedicated attention to vehicle waste. Because our waste can have big negative impacts in terms of pollution”.

Key Roles in the Ecosystem

The panel discussion highlighted the key roles within the ecosystem that are pivotal in driving sustainable fleet initiatives. This included the involvement of NGOs, donors, corporations, and technology providers.

Panel member Katherine Ely (Project manager at WREC) shared with the audience “At the Fleet Forum summit, there was strong alignment between the members on two barriers that hinder the implementation of the sustainable fleet commitments. One of these is donor regulations and coherence between donor regulations”.

It is worth noting that while DG ECHO is setting an example by supporting supply chain projects, we need more donors to follow in their footsteps. Organisations must revisit their financial models to allow for greater flexibility in implementing sustainable solutions, such as shifting from fuel to electricity for power. Funding mechanisms should be designed to support enhancements and drive transformative change within organizations, as the current 7% overhead is insufficient.

We also need to attract more impact investors to the sector to magnify our collective impact. Carmen Garcia Duro shared “Donors need to understand the complexity of the sustainable requirements they are asking us for and harmonise their requirements. With ECHO we see good examples of the two-way dialogue and we ask that more donors adopt this approach”

Working Together with Suppliers as Partners

Bassam summarised the discussion at the Fleet Forum Summit “Suppliers have quite a role in providing a suite of services in the aftersales support to our field offices. Reverse logistics of fleet waste was a prominent topic at the Fleet Forum Summit. Also, we need suppliers to accelerate the insertion of vehicles with better emission reduction technologies”

Also he remarked "A huge chunk of our emissions comes from the way our suppliers are producing their products and services. How we work together with our suppliers, how we challenge them and treat them as partners, this will be pivotal to the reduction of our scope 3 emissions”

The ROI of Sustainable Fleet

A number of Fleet Forum member organisations are experiencing serious budgets cuts and are pondering the pace of their implementation plan amidst these cuts. Carmen Garcia Duro shared “I am convinced that our sustainable fleet initiatives will also bring cost efficiencies". Katherine Ely complimented her message, emphasising that sustainable fleet has ROI no doubt, but it will require strong leaders who are willing to make the investment in the start in order to reap the emission and cost savings in the long-term.

Leveraging Synergies for Faster Progress

The key message resonating throughout the panel session was the idea that "we can go faster together." By fostering partnerships and leveraging synergies, the humanitarian sector can collectively reduce its environmental footprint at an accelerated pace. The participants stressed the need for stakeholders to collaborate and explore how shared initiatives can produce more significant results than standalone actions.

Call to action

Through the Commitments, the Fleet Forum member community has given itself, as well as donors and suppliers, a resounding call to action. It's imperative that we unite in our efforts to green fleet management and bolster collaboration. The time for action is now.

To achieve real change, we must take tangible steps forward. We must translate our road map into concrete actions that make a measurable impact. In closing, our collective commitment to accelerating the reduction of the environmental footprint of humanitarian fleets through partnerships is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic necessity. Together, we can turn these discussions into decisive actions that lead to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future for the humanitarian sector.



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