KLU Student Jakob Stary Helps Measure the Ecological Footprint of MSF

Practical insights are a vital part of studying at KLU. During his internship at MSF, KLU student Jakob Stary (M.Sc. Global Logistics & Supply Chain Management, Class of 2021) helped to develop a tool that measures the ecological footprint of every entity of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The internship was supported by HELP Logistics.

Jakob, could you sum up the main aim of MSF’s Climate Smart project?

The project aims at decreasing MSF’s negative environmental impacts without compromising the effectiveness of its aid. They have borrowed the “do no harm” principle from medical ethics, that commits to prevent the potential negative outcomes of aid programs. It has been extended to include damage to the environment, which in turn can harm health. The project team works on an “audit” tool which allows every MSF entity to measure their environmental footprint, including carbon emissions and waste production. Furthermore, they undertake different approaches to understand and highlight the harm for the environment caused by the operations, including its supply chain of MSF worldwide. One of these actions is the mapping of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions emissions caused by global freight transportation of MSF.

How did you get in touch with HELP Logistics and, further on, MSF?

The first time I got introduced to humanitarian logistics was at the Welcome Week during the start of my master’s program at KLU in Hamburg. Prof. Maria Besiou gave a short introduction to her work in that field and my interest was captured immediately. As I did not have any experience in the sector, I decided to do my internship in humanitarian logistics. Therefore, I approached Prof. Dr. Besiou. She introduced me to the project of the Climate Smart team and connected me with HELP Logistics and MSF.

What was your main task?

The project required intense data analyses and a good understanding of the overall organization. The main challenges for me during the analyses were collecting the right data, connecting the different datasets, identifying any missing gaps, talking to the right people to understand the data, making the right assumptions, and compiling the findings in a comprehensible report. The report includes both, a picture of the analyzed data during the project and new data that is being fed weekly into the report.  

What was the main result of your report?

Firstly, the report increases the transparency and visibility of the emissions caused by MSF’s freight transportation. Furthermore, the analyses in the report help to identify potential improvement areas and crucial points to reduce emissions. It will be used as a basis for discussion with stakeholders on mitigation actions and for setting targets to enhance the sustainability of the MSF supply chain.

What’s the most important thing you learned during your time with MSF?

Throughout the project, I had insights into the humanitarian environment. MSF is a huge, complex and diverse organization that faces many of the same challenges found in the private sector, but also different ones. I was able to gain a better understanding of the sector and to make contacts within MSF and other humanitarian organizations. In the project, I had to work with a new software – Power BI. As my main responsibility was the technical implementation of the project I had to try out and work with many of the possibilities the software has to offer. This hard skill will benefit me in my future career.

Could you imagine to continue working in this field after your graduation?

I am passionate about logistics and supply chain management. Also, I like to support the community and to give something back to society. I believe that if all of us try every day to make this world a little bit better, we can achieve a lot. By working in humanitarian logistics, I could combine those interests and passions. So yes, continuing to work in this field after graduation is one of the options I am taking into consideration.  

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