Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential for continuous progress on sustainable practices

30 Sep 2019

Communicating sustainability remains a complex topic and has generally been addressed using specialised scientific language and publications, or over-simplified to the point of disservice to the sustainability goals. Recognising the gaps between academia, policy, and society as a whole, the team behind AEON Strategy developed AEON Collective, a research entity operating in parallel to AEON Strategy, with the objective of convening and propagating knowledge that will shed light on sustainable practices and exploring ideas that could contribute to development and progress.

The mission of this collective is to enhance dialogue and harness discussions to advance cooperation and efforts towards development. By encouraging and mobilising collaboration between academia, industry, business, policy makers, and thought leaders, AEON Collective is building a dynamic “knowledge community” that generates and shares ideas, expertise, and experiences through multiple activities and initiatives.

Thought Papers

At AEON Collective, the journey begins with a “Spark" an idea or a thought which is communicated in the form of a publication, and then circulated for an open peer review process to ensure scientific validity. An array of multidisciplinary experts are then invited to respond to this thought with their expert contributions, thus adding “Fuel”. These “Thought Paper” series are the first step of turning an idea or a theory into a practical approach in order to solve the challenges that communities face. In a lot of ways this iterative process of writing identifies the missing links in an idea or an approach and could help in placing ideas on the right path. Thought Papers are intended to act as a concise, initial exploration of an idea, and are supported by Fact Sheets that define underlying concepts.

Knowledge Series

An idea, especially if nascent, needs a comfortable space to grow and develop. Likewise, a suitable platform is necessary to share efforts and achievements, one which also allows for challenges to be discussed and new concepts to be better understood. AEON Collective’s knowledge series acts a propagator and convener of information through multiple initiatives, such as the Saudi Sustainability Talks series, a collaborative effort aimed at creating a safe zone for sustainability professionals, policy makers and professionals who would benefit from incorporating sustainable practices into their activities to discuss topics, ideas, progress, opportunities and challenges. AEON also arranges and hosts specialised workshops intended to discuss technical and specialised topics, and conducts and co-produces lectures, videos, podcasts and art as part of its General Knowledge Series Programme that focus on outreach to nonexperts.

Energy Efficiency in the Context of Sustainable Development

Energy efficiency is a vital component of sustainable energy consumption that leads to a better quality of life. There is a rudimentary need for both collecting and having access to data in order to measure behaviour, and assist in reaching a healthy, comfortable level of energy efficiency and sufficiency.

Having consulted on energy efficiency in commercial and residential projects in the Kingdom, AEON has identified the gaps that are vital to achieving an optimal level of progress on efficiency. In addition to data shortages, barriers exist on the financial and technical side, such as a lack of lending for energy efficiency projects and limited supply of appliances that can withstand Saudi Arabia’s harsh weather conditions and temperature extremes. For almost a decade, local institutions have been working on developing and enhancing standards to ensure solutions are optimised for the local environment. AEON has therefore taken upon itself to work with such institutions and regulating bodies to ensure that available solutions are sound and in harmony with the surrounding environment as part of its responsibility to its clients and the Saudi consumer.

The combination of awareness programmes, energy price reforms, and taxation policies have been conducive to the increase in interest in energy efficiency measures rationa lconsumption. Nonetheless prices remain relatively low, with half of the residential sector consuming less than 2000kWh/month and 21% between 2000 - 4000 kWh/ month at a rate of $0.04/kWH while 60% of the commercial sector consumes above 8000 kWh/month at a rate of $0.08/kwh1. 

In light of such reforms, coupled with the need to find technological solutions to increase rational  consumption, AEON is working with its partners to develop dashboards that take smart thermostats to another level of utility, covering a wider range of appliances and energy consuming devices. The idea is to seamlessly assist consumers in reaching a more sustainable level of energy consumption without compromising comfort, by enabling them to become more aware of their consumption behaviours and identify a comfortable level of sufficiency throughout.

Operating under the belief that universal, cross-disciplinary collaboration is vital for sustained progress, AEON takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability with emphasis on the intersections of energy, environment, and socioeconomic elements.

About the authors


Noura al-Saud is a Founding Partner at AEON strategy, a sustainable development advisory firm focusing on energy, environment and social inclusion. She has previously held the role of assistant director at The King Faisal Center for Research (KFCRIS) , a think tank based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where she also headed the Unit on Energy Studies, focusing on the geopolitics of energy (oil & gas) and energy markets.

Mashael Alshalan is a Founding Partner at AEON Strategy, a sustainable development advisory firm focusing on energy, environment and social inclusion. As a part of Aeon Collective's non profit research activities, Mashael engages in workshops and seminars on the topics of climate change policy, net-zero energy emissions and pathways for sustainable and inclusive growth.


About AEON Strategy

A sustainable development advisory firm born out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, AEON Strategy follows a unique approach. They bridge the gap between theory and practice and believe in optimizing and enhancing tangible and intangible structures to advance a higher quality of sustainable living. Their strength lies in their collaborative nature and ability to build strong and healthy ecosystems that rely on collective effort through a network of diverse stakeholders. They design the building blocks necessary to move sustainability forward, serving as an architect within the sustainability ecosystem in Saudi Arabia. 

1 ECRA, 2018. Tariff Consumption. Last (Accessed 6 September, 2019). https://www.ecra.gov.sa/en-us/