© John Wessels/ALIMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2017.

Insight into the development of the first roadmap to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint

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By François Delfosse & Cédric Martin
09 February 2022

The first roadmap developed by the initiative

In December, ALIMA presented its environmental roadmap for the reduction of the carbon footprint of its activities. This roadmap, the first to be developed by the Climate Action Accelerator with an aid organisation, has enabled the teams involved to develop a methodology for organisations that will come on board in the future and to remind them that such a transition to low-carbon operations is possible. Discover the work carried out over several months with Cédric Martin and François Delfosse, respectively in charge of the development of roadmaps and solutions in the work done with ALIMA.

The first contact and the added value of a partnership

The onboarding of ALIMA within the process of the Climate Action Accelerator was facilitated by the organisation’s awareness of climate and carbon reduction issues, which considerably accelerated the process and highlighted the importance of understanding and appropriating such issues as a factor for success.

The main focus was on the organisation’s impact rather than the consequences of climate change on humanitarian action. The evolution of ALIMA’s social mission was therefore recorded and understood. It is on its climate and carbon impact that most of the discussions have therefore focused.

The idea of partnership is a fundamental element of the Climate Action Accelerator’s approach with organisations that come on board the initiative. In this spirit, the partnership between ALIMA and the Climate Action Accelerator has created a relationship of equality and exchange that allows for the reinforcement of support, mutual challenge, and motivation to push one’s limits and thus maintain commitment.

The partnership was also conceived with a particular focus on sharing and pooling information. It is not just a question of working on ALIMA’s roadmap, but of participating in the challenge of sharing these methods and solutions rather than decarbonisation as the sole end in itself.

Working with ALIMA as a first partner enables us to launch a similar process with others because the issue is not only decarbonisation but also the acceleration of climate action which requires everyone’s participation.

The difficulties when it comes to the frontrunners result from the internal understanding of the issues and their potential implications, particularly concerning work habits, organisational choices, or the choice of priority actions. The added value of an organisation such as the Climate Action Accelerator is strong because, by relying on an external partnership, a driving force in internal mobilisation is created.

Success factors

The commitments to the process generated a strong internal mobilisation. The revision of ALIMA’s charter was the first step and demonstrated its commitment. This decision by the Board of Directors launched the process. Since ALIMA’s stakeholders were strongly mobilised from the beginning of the process, the environmental roadmap could be drawn up under the best conditions.

A survey, conducted in the field, allowed us greater visibility on the carbon footprint of ALIMA’s activities and the good practices that were already in place; this was complemented by a second survey on the humanitarian and medical impacts of the climate and environmental crisis, primarily on the most vulnerable populations. An internal analysis of existing documents and tools within ALIMA was also carried out. The objectives of these different surveys and analyses were to understand the organisation and to illustrate the strengths and opportunities within ALIMA that it can rely on to consolidate its sustainability approach, as well as certain weaknesses and threats that need to be addressed and considered at the operational and strategic levels.

Moreover, it was important to capture and collect the issues and opinions specifically related to the implementation of the operations by those primarily concerned, ALIMA’s field actors.

The internal mobilisation of key actors was therefore accompanied by field surveys and a collaborative platform to reach the widest possible audience of ALIMA.

This revealed the advantages of such an approach and confirmed that participation of an organisation’s staff should be considered as a fundamental step, as setting the foundation for working with others, adapting it to each organisation.

The challenges of replicability

The complexity in developing a roadmap lies in the structure of the organisation, coupled with the need to reassure them on the continuity of their social mission per their modus operandi.

Therefore, the challenge is to provide reassurance on the issue of decarbonisation within their activities without undermining their social mission. In this respect, the Climate Action Accelerator’s work with ALIMA is also essential in that it serves as an example and as proof: if one organisation can do it, then all others can as well.

ALIMA, as the Climate Action Accelerator’s first partner organisation, is truly a method-building laboratory and a demonstration that conviction and exemplarity can lead to more widespread implementation.

It is thanks to this first experience with ALIMA that methods, which are in essence replicable, have been developed.

The decarbonisation solutions developed within this framework are themselves conceived as a common good that can be shared, and their implementation by others can only enrich them by introducing them to a process of continuous improvement.

The construction of any organisation’s roadmap is an iterative process: on the one hand, we learn by doing, and on the other hand, we adapt to reality.

There is also balance to be struck between the obligation to provide means and the obligation to do no harm. This balance always depends on the organisation that joins the movement: what balance should be established between the large emission areas that must give rise to direct action, and the small steps which are thought out in the long-term, concerning these large pools of opportunity? The balance must be established between high-impact efforts and those in which the staff is a player, perhaps to a lesser extent, but with an opportunity to change the organisation’s culture internally.

However, for some high-impact solutions to be implemented, small steps leading to a drastic reduction in carbon consumption are necessary.

Finally, the roadmap is not an end in itself but a starting point for two actions: its implementation in the organisation that adopts it on the one hand, and its replicability for other organisations that we hope will become agents for accelerating climate action and a vector of influence and change in their ecosystems. This is a key factor: it is here that the key to acceleration will be played out.

François Delfosse & Cédric Martin, in charge of the development of roadmaps and solutions, at the Climate Action Accelerator. 


Photo credit © John Wessels/ALIMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2017.