The Airbus Foundation has evolved its strategy to address some of the key challenges facing society today, with its mandate including climate change since 2021. As it publishes its latest Annual Report, Managing Director Rachel Schroeder outlines the Airbus Foundation’s achievements, current priorities and is looking ahead to 2023.
What is the Airbus Foundation and what is its mission?
Although you see Airbus in the name of the Foundation, we have a different mission and mandate from the Airbus businesses. What we do is fully aligned with the sustainability mission and objectives of Airbus, however. The Foundation is a French Corporate Foundation and a separate legal entity, funded by Airbus Commercial SAS, Airbus Helicopters SAS and Airbus Defence and Space SAS.
The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors with internal and external members. Julie Kitcher is the Chairperson while Bruno Even and Mike Schoellhorn also sit on the Board together with other top management and employee representatives. We also have four external experts who are Board Members representing our three pillars: Environment, Humanitarian Response and Youth Development.
The Foundation leverages Airbus products – aircraft, helicopters, satellite imagery and more – providing their use to our partners for free. We don’t give financial donations, but instead, we work together with the partners in a strategic way to help them deliver aid, address climate change and nature conservation challenges and to support the development of young people. The work we do is not aimed to support Airbus’ business objectives. Instead, we are a philanthropic organisation. Our humanitarian partners are global NGOs and non-profit organisations like the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the World Food Programme Global Logistics Cluster (WFP-GLC) or Action Against Hunger (ACF).
How would you sum up the Foundation’s 2021 achievements and current priorities?
In 2021 we refocused the Foundation’s activities around the three areas mentioned earlier. The inclusion of the Environment pillar reflects Airbus’ sustainability priorities and the absolute importance of addressing climate change. Last year we finalised two new environment-related partnership agreements – with Connected Conservation Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Both these partnerships involve the use of Airbus’ satellite imagery to address climate change and to monitor and protect fragile ecosystems. One of our priorities in 2022 is to reach out to our humanitarian partners and explore the potential of our support for their environment-related objectives.
The Foundation also responded to various humanitarian aid requests, including the ongoing pandemic. Notable missions included providing helicopter support to Chile and Papua New Guinea to help them address COVID challenges and to Haiti after a devastating earthquake. We delivered COVID aid to Nepal using an A350 and throughout 2021 our partners requested satellite imagery to help them perform valuable pre- and post-event assessments.
Youth Development programmes were equally important. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, the work our partners were able to do was often severely compromised as children couldn’t attend school and group activities were limited or non-existent. But we spent the year working on evolving our strategy to provide more online content and to develop the Airbus Foundation Discovery Space, including creating explanatory videos about hydrogen and DIY experiment videos. We also started work on a self-development booklet for older children and some of the previous in-person mentoring activities were able to start again. Our partnership continued with the European Space Agency and Autodesk, supporting the international "Moon Camp Challenge". The objective is to build a moon settlement in 3D, supported by a teacher and focussing on learning-by-design and science experimentation. We saw a significant increase in the number of students taking part.
Looking ahead to 2023 when the Foundation’s mandate is up for renewal, we are now defining our road-map for the next five years based on the three pillars. I sincerely believe that the Airbus Foundation is a strong force for good and that we can help make a difference in people’s lives. The fact that we are able to use Airbus products gives us a broad and powerful portfolio that no other Corporate Foundation I know of has at its disposal. When you combine this with the technical expertise of Airbus employee volunteers who support us as technical or topic experts, we can consider ourselves uniquely equipped to address some of the world's most pressing challenges.
>Learn more about the Airbus Foundation and read its Annual Report via Airbus.com
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