Fighting Ebola: part of Rusal’s commitment to sustainability
As Rusal proved in its response to the Guinea Ebola crisis, the company is an industry leader in the realm of public-private partnerships.
While Rusal’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea might be one of its better-known public-private partnerships, it is just one of the many initiatives the business has undertaken to make life better in the places where it does business.
This has two strands. First, the aluminium industry in which Rusal operates can be incredibly carbon intensive and environmentally damaging without proper safeguards and a broader commitment to sustainability, clean energy and environmental protection. In both its business activities and its corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, Rusal prioritises sustainable development and responsible aluminium production. Second, Rusal seeks to meet the fundamental needs in the communities it operates, whether through improving healthcare, facilitating social engagement or helping to improve educational outcomes.
Rusal promotes sustainability in the aluminium industry
As one of the globe’s leading aluminium producers, Rusal takes great responsibility for doing its bit to ensure the aluminium industry is as sustainable as possible. For example, in December 2015 it joined the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), a partnership aim which develops and raises global sustainability standards throughout the aluminium value chain.
Membership in the ASI is part of Rusal’s company-wide commitment to making aluminium – and the way in which it is produced – more sustainable. The aluminium created by Rusal has one of the lowest carbon footprints on the market, thanks to Rusal’s use of the renewable hydropower resources of Siberia. The results speak for themselves: since 1990, Rusal has reduced emissions from its smelters by more than 50%. More than 90% of Rusal’s aluminium production is made possible by clean, renewable hydropower.
By 2020, Rusal has stated its intention to ensure that all of its electricity needs will come from clean energy.
And Rusal intends to build on this already considerable success in sustainability. By 2025, Rusal aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% for aluminium smelters and by 10% for alumina refineries. In another major step towards sustainability, Rusal aims to establish closed recycled water supply systems for key production processes at production facilities by 2020, as well as drive an increase in the proportion of waste processing, recycling, safe storage and disposal of waste. Rusal also aims to completely end the production of waste containing harmful polychlorinated biphenyls by 2022.
In addition, Rusal wants to help re-use and regenerate the land impacted by aluminium production activities – reclaiming land and promoting biodiversity. Sustainability in the environmental sense is essential to the future of our planet, but it is not the only type of sustainability. Rusal is also working to create sustainable solutions around the globe through a number of successful public-private partnerships.
How Rusal’s public-private partnership helped to tackle Ebola
The most famous of Rusal’s public-private partnerships was initiated in Guinea during the Ebola epidemic in 2014, helping tackle the virus as it ravaged through West Africa.
That Rusal should step to help Guinea halt the spread of the deadly Ebola virus should not come as a surprise. The company has a long and proud history of trying to improve lives in the local communities where it operates, seeing it as another facet of sustainability in the aluminium industry. As one of Guinea’s largest employers and most significant private investors, Rusal used a public-private partnership to help a partner country in its hour of need.
In 2014, Rusal funded the construction of its most successful public-private partnership to date – the Centre for epidemic and microbiological research and treatment (CEMRT). With time being of the essence in the battle to contain Ebola, Rusal oversaw the construction of the centre in just 50 days. Even more impressively, Rusal was also the only business globally to fund a public-private partnership specifically with the aim of tackling Ebola in Guinea.
No expense was spared. The centre cost $10 million dollars to build, and was constructed using the most modern Russian engineering techniques with support from the experts at the Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor). Rusal also equipped the centre with some of the most innovative medical equipment available globally.
The result was a centre that was – and is – one of the leading centres of its kind in Africa. Opened on the 17 January 2015, its facilities include an infection hospital, provisional hospital, a mobile laboratory and a blood and plasma transfusion department. The hospital quickly established itself as one of the primary weapons in Guinea’s fight against Ebola.
The strength of this public-private partnership was quickly proven by its results. Those treated for Ebola at the centre had the best response rate in Guinea: 62.5% of those treated for Ebola at the centre recovered.
The importance of CEMRT to the Guinean healthcare model was recognised when it was commissioned as a medical institution of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Guinea and was included in the Guinean national system aimed at preventing the spread of Ebola. Rusal’s public-private partnership was an integral part of Guinea’s response to the deadly disease of Ebola and in December 2015, the country was declared to be officially free of Ebola.
As a significant long-term addition to Guinea’s emerging healthcare sector, the CEMRT offers an example of how metals companies can contribute to sustainability and sustainable development in more ways than one.
Indeed, while the storm of the Ebola crisis may have passed – for now – the usefulness of the public-private partnership initiated by Rusal in Guinea is only just beginning. As well as being a functioning hospital, the centre is conducting extensive research into Ebola and other similar highly dangerous communicable diseases – furthering the world’s knowledge of their detection, treatment and prevention.
Rusal’s facility in Guinea – and its pivotal role in helping to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa – is a case study in how public-private partnerships can help change our world for the better. As part of its overall commitment to sustainability, Rusal will continue to help to find the sustainable solutions we need to tackle the challenges of both today and tomorrow.