WFP Ethiopia Greening Committee

Thu, 06/03/14

Blessing Ezeibe-Nweke, head of administration of Ethiopia's Country Office (CO), was reviewing Ethiopia's latest greenhouse gas footprints when she noticed a conspicuous trend – carbon emissions were on the rise. When Blessing told country director Abdou Dieng that they could reduce emissions, energy consumption and costs at the same time, he promptly offered his support. Together, they established WFP's first greening committee. Last May, the committee reached a critical conclusion – business as usual in Ethiopia could not continue.

WFP Ethiopia's staff had a formidable challenge on its hands. Operations had grown during the Horn of Africa Crisis in 2011. Carbon dioxide emissions peaked that year at 3,418 tons of greenhouse gas (tCO2e), which made Ethiopia's operation the 6th largest emitter at WFP. Its carbon footprint surpassed those of WFP Somalia, South Africa, India and Guinea – combined.

Blessing and Abdou called their colleagues to action. Harnessing the power of WFP's diverse workforce, 15 staff were nominated, spanning Admin, ICT, Logistics, Programme and Procurement to form a Greening
 Committee. Blessing insists that greening is "not just an administration issue." Rather, she reveals, "there are a lot of decisions that can be made to improve WFP's environmental performance and run more efficiently."

Ethiopia Country Office staff prepare to car-share on a pooled visit to a WFP warehouse in Addis Ababa. This simple measure formed part of an initiative to reduce carbon emissions after staff formed WFP's first "Greening Committee". Pictured (L to R) are Senior Administrative Assistant Kidist Mammo, Deputy Country Director Pascal Joannes, Head of Administration Blessing Ezeibe-Nweke, Acting Country Director Purnima Kashyap, Programme Officer Keton Sankei, and driver Biruk Kebede. Photo: WFP/Edil Amare

The CO already had runs on the board: an e-waste campaign had sustainably disposed of over 1100 defunct IT items, thanks to WFP's partnership with Ethiopia's Computer Refurbishment and Training Center (CRTC).

During their first meeting in late May, the committee discussed options for cost and energy savings for light vehicles and facilities run by admin, and the heavy trucks and warehouse generators used in Logistics. ICT suggested various energy reducing technologies for energy saving. Together they drafted an action plan that prioritized energy auditing, applications for WFP's Energy Efficiency Programme (EEP), and awareness-raising to help all staff be part of the solution.

On June 5th the committee mobilized to celebrate World Environment Day. In an all-staff email, Deputy Country Director Purnima Kashyap, encouraged staff to print double-sided, conserve fuel, and turn off unused electronics. These green office tips demonstrated top-down support and highlighted that individual contributions help reach a greater goal. "It's not just a WFP issue; it's about us as a community," explains Keton Sankei, programme officer and co-chair of the greening committee. In the eastern Somaliland region, security concerns require all travel to be in convoys. "You cannot move just one vehicle at a time, so it's really important to bundle missions. By liaising with Programme, the staff can be directly involved in improving WFP by their choices at work," he says. Next, the committee reached out to the Environmental Management team in Rome, seeking sustainable procurement advice and funding for solar security lights.

The committee's biggest challenge continues to be vehicle emissions. In 2011, they climbed to 61% of CO emissions. The committee is exploring options to reduce the long distances many 4WDs travel to reach a workshop for servicing, replacing obsolete vehicles and using the Fleet Management System (FMS), to track fuel consumption and reduce idling. With recent figures showing emissions stabilized in 2012, the CO is hopeful that they have successfully reduced emissions in 2013 and that this trend continues.


Categories: Leadership, Staff Engagement, Travel