Hydro, a long-term client of edX, is a global aluminum manufacturing company committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. In May 2023, Hydro launched a comprehensive sustainability initiative with the goal to contribute to a renewable future.
Challenge: Empower employees with the knowledge to drive sustainability
“Driving sustainability by becoming a net-zero company, protecting biodiversity, and reducing our environmental footprint are key strategic ambitions for us,” says Jeanine Lerdahl, Global Lead Learning at Norsk Hydro.
Hydro’s pillars and goals include:
- Net Zero: Deliver net-zero products to customers and become a net-zero company by 2050 or earlier.
- Biodiversity: Achieve no net loss of biodiversity in new projects by 2030, and 1:1 rehabilitation of mined areas within two hydrological seasons.
- Empowerment: Provide 500,000 people, by 2030, with education and skills development for the future economy.
These goals are in conjunction with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals that constitute a global vision for addressing development and sustainability challenges. Hydro highlights eight as particularly important, one of which is equitable access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.
As part of these initiatives, the company sought to enhance its workforce’s knowledge of and skills in sustainability. To do so, they turned to edX to provide a tailored learning solution.
Solution: Offer employees courses and programs in sustainable business practices
The edX sustainability courses Hydro selected and rolled out to all employees included offerings from the SDG Academy, an initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network which creates graduate-level courses on sustainable development for global learners.
Employees had access to a curated pathway, spanning beginner to advanced capabilities, centered on sustainability. Some of the courses included were:
- How to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals from SDG Academy
- Sustainable Supply Chains and Circularity from ISCEA
- Strategic Communication for Sustainability Leaders from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
- Introduction to Corporate Sustainability, Social Innovation and Ethics from Imperial Business
Additionally, Hydro invited a cohort of its 50 employees across all levels of the organization to participate in the Oxford Leading Sustainable Corporations Programme, from the edX cohort learning portfolio. The six-week course was customized and extended to a 12-week program to give employees more flexibility to complete assignments around their busy workloads. The course aimed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to formulate sustainable strategies.
This particular program curriculum takes an executive-level perspective on business sustainability; it focuses on teaching leaders to integrate environmental, social, and corporate governance factors into their business practice.
Jeanine Lerdahl expressed her excitement and pride in Hydro partnering with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, and edX, and in having Hydro’s cohort of 50 leaders become the first cohort of employees to participate in the Oxford Leading Sustainable Corporations Programme. “This cohort,” Lerdahl says, “represents a diverse group of individuals from across the entire organization who are eager and engaged in sustainability and their learning journey.”
Impact: Education helps drive positive change
Hydro’s investment in learning and development with edX has helped establish a foundation for a sustainable future within the company. Members of this cohort are now equipped with the necessary capabilities and skills to communicate and implement sustainable business practices and strategies. Upon completion, participants in the Oxford Leading Sustainable Corporations Programme are able to:
- Implement risk management and facilitate ESG integration into their organization.
- Formulate effective KPIs to measure their organization’s effect on the environment.
- Develop a plan to integrate sustainability strategies into corporate governance structures.
- Access leading climate research from Oxford Saïd to drive positive change.
Mary Johnstone-Louis, Programme Co-Director of the Oxford Leading Sustainable Corporations Programme and senior fellow in management practice, described the cohort’s enthusiasm for the learning initiative.
“Participants from Hydro put forth significant effort during the programme, demonstrating a strong commitment to group and individual learning,” Johnstone-Louis said. “The cohort also showed a clear intention to bring the program’s focus on action to their own work, a true return on this investment in their leadership.”
By prioritizing learning, Hydro is also better positioned to achieve its strategic ambitions within sustainability. The company’s culture for learning continues to evolve and edX is here to support those values as they grow and change. This collaboration between Hydro and edX serves as a powerful example of how education and corporate goals can align to influence positive change and create a lasting impact on society.
Looking ahead: What’s next for Hydro and edX
Hydro is continuing its partnership with edX with a three-year learner credit deal. This commitment underscores the company’s dedication to ongoing learning and its belief in the power of education to drive sustainable change.
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