Skip to main content
Home » Sustainable Healthcare » Adopting a sustainable approach to healthcare decision making

Ugo Di Francesco (pictured above)

CEO, Chiesi Group

Changing the ethos within a pharmaceutical company can help deliver more sustainable healthcare, if actions follow ethical commitments.

With innovative product designs, reducing carbon emissions and reaching out into the communities they serve, healthcare companies can improve the environment and make the world a better and healthier place.

Biopharmaceutical company CEO Ugo Di Francesco is passionate about the responsibility his industry should bear. He believes the healthcare sector has a collective responsibility to tackle the climate crisis and its health impacts by addressing the root causes of diseases and not adding to the health burden of patients.

Going beyond treating patients

Di Francesco heads global biopharmaceutical company Chiesi. Formed in 1935 and still owned by the Chiesi family, it has recently added rare diseases to its respiratory and special care products portfolio, with a focus on metabolic disorder and enzyme replacement therapies.

He says: “Companies must take on the concept of sustainable healthcare and shared value. That means going beyond treating patients and their symptoms, being actively involved within communities, and promoting the concept of caring about people.”

“On top of that, we need to acknowledge our place in the environment; we have to design our new products in a more sustainable way with recycled plastic and create inhalers that can be re-used. For our services and solutions for the future, we must not only keep in mind the impact on the environment, but we must also do something about it,” he adds. He sees this as a period when the time for talk is over and the need to act must become the number one concern for CEOs.

As an example, he points to Chiesi’s EUR 350 million investment to develop an inhaler which reduces carbon footprint by more than 90% while preserving all treatment options for people living with asthma and COPD.

We’ve created a culture change, an operating change and an attitude change in our way of doing business.

The net zero race

The company has set goals that will see it reduce direct Scope I and Scope II greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and become a completely carbon neutral company by 2035 by cutting indirect emissions. “We are working on a Net Zero Trajectory with our plan to reduce our scope 3 emissions by 90% by 2035,” Di Francesco confirms.

It has aligned with the Paris agreement on reducing global warming and changed its legal status to become a Benefit Corporation – to not only serve shareholders but the community, the environment and workforce. That means full transparency in its progress toward carbon neutrality.

A valued B Corp certification, awarded in 2019 and where companies are recognised for their social and environmental performance, is in the process of being renewed.

“This is a long-term commitment for us. We’ve created a culture change, an operating change and an attitude change in our way of doing business,” he says. “We have also developed a ‘code of interdependence’ for our suppliers. That means they must adhere to certain principles and work sustainably in their activities if they want to supply to the company.”  Chiesi sees this as a movement, an un-stoppable force for change that everyone needs to embrace if they want a licence to operate in future.

Climate action

Aligned to the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi), the reference framework that drives climate action in the private sector, the company’s commitment to deliver on reducing the carbon footprint of operations, people and products, while preserving patient care, is underlined in its upcoming annual sustainability report.

“What I am particularly proud of,” continues Di Francesco, “is the determination our people are putting into their working lives every day in contributing to making the world feel better and create a healthier and more sustainable future.”

Next article