In an exclusive interview with the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer, Pascal Soriot, called climate change “the biggest threat to humanity”, noting “I don't think everybody realises the sense of urgency that is required to address it.”
Speaking to IMD President Jean-François Manzoni, Pascal underscored the global cooperation needed to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future, as well as AstraZeneca’s continued international efforts to help stem the pandemic. Explaining why AstraZeneca committed to help develop and deliver a vaccine at no profit, Pascal explained: “We are in a world that is give and take, and when you can help, and if you have an opportunity to help, you should not say no.”
At AstraZeneca, we have now reached an important milestone in our pandemic response, having released one billion doses of our vaccine for supply to over 170 countries. As of the end of June 2021, we had supplied around 90% of the doses for COVAX, the multilateral equitable access facility, with the majority distributed to low and middle-income countries. Pascal explained: “We're the third largest supplier in the world. We've had a big impact in many, many countries. We've saved tens of thousands of lives…Economies have restarted early in many countries because of the vaccine.”
We are in a world that is give and take, and when you can help, and if you have an opportunity to help, you should not say no.
Pascal also looked ahead at the future of the business following the recent Alexion acquisition to enhance the company’s portfolio in immunology and rare diseases. Highlighting the strategic fit and common focus on patients and scientific innovation across the organisations, Pascal discussed the opportunity to discover new medicines for rare diseases through the collaboration.
Another investment which we are prioritising as a business is sustainability, including through our $1bn ‘Ambition Zero Carbon’ programme. This accelerated action on environmental protection is critical as climate change — already harming human health — is linked to a rise in chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. As Pascal outlined, we are well on track to becoming zero carbon across our business by 2025 and have committed to ensuring our entire value chain is carbon negative by 2030. Since 2015, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 60% and water consumption by 20%. We are also boosting renewable energy sources and transitioning to an electric vehicle fleet, at the same time as committing to reforestation through the AZ Forest.
As a founding member of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, led by HRH The Prince of Wales, we are helping to drive the transition to a sustainable future across industry more broadly. Our focus on digital health innovations, accelerated by the pandemic, is another way in which we are lowering our environmental footprint, while reducing the burden of ill health on patients, healthcare systems and the economy.
On the climate crisis, Pascal concluded: “The business world is now stepping up and starting to make an impact… I'm hoping that with pressure from shareholders and society at large people will change their behaviour”.
A podcast of this interview is available here.