Ethics in Action: The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) held inaugural launch events in Islamabad and Karachi, Pakistan. Taking the form of an interactive exhibition, Ethics in Action provides a glimpse into the human dimension of the Ismaili Imamat’s efforts to improve quality of life.

As a Diamond Jubilee initiative, the exhibition aims to engage and enlighten visitors through a thoughtful and immersive experience, and illustrates how key ethics can positively influence development work around the world. An initial launch event was held in August at the Islamabad Serena Hotel, Pakistan, attended by guests, members of the diplomatic community, and young participants of the Global Encounters programme in Pakistan. A second event was held in Karachi in October, as part of a planned tour of several cities, as the showcase will journey across the world during the Diamond Jubilee year.

The Ethics in Action exhibition brings to life the ethical principles that underpin the work of the Ismaili Imamat. In addition to interpreting the faith, the Imam of the time strives to provide a good quality of life for his community, and those amongst whom they live. Today, this mandate is undertaken through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a collection of institutions and programmes established by Mawlana Hazar Imam, working to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities in some of the poorest regions of the world.

In particular, Ethics in Action sheds lights on 8 ethics central to the work of AKDN and demonstrates how each of these guide development projects in fields as varied as healthcare and heritage preservation across the globe. The exhibition is accompanied by an app that allows visitors to explore projects and ethics further using a smartphone.

Grounded in the Ismaili community’s traditions of service, care, and compassion, Ethics in Action expresses the notion of AKDN protecting and sheltering those it serves, symbolised by the digitally fabricated canopy under which a selection of artwork and handicrafts are displayed. Guests at the exhibition were able to learn about and interact with the intricate embroidery, glittering gemstones, and bright fabrics on display. The content also shares human-centred stories about the lives touched through various development projects.

One such account comes from Jyothi in India, who was able to finish school with the help of the Aga Khan Foundation. Rather than staying at home, Jyothi now plans to serve her community by becoming a teacher and educating more children. A number of AKDN agencies are represented at the Ethics in Action exhibition, each sharing their own stories relaying the benefits delivered to people, while collectively uplifting the wellbeing of communities and societies across the world.

The exhibition in Islamabad coincided with the Global Encounters programme taking place in Pakistan. Coming from 12 different countries, 41 participants and 16 facilitators took part in the international camp, which brings together talented young Ismailis from around the world to focus on service, leadership development, culture, and global citizenship.

Participants were treated to a tour of Ethics in Action, which provided an additional dimension to the camp. Saif Kamran of the UK explained, “The exhibition brought to light the depth and passion these institutions operate under. From health services, to educational services, the exhibition allowed me to view the three-dimensional nature of AKDN and the ways in which its services promote the cosmopolitan ethic.”

Camp facilitator Marina Khan of Pakistan noted “the exhibition was an opportunity to touch, wear, or buy an artefact, making it more personal and relatable. In all, it was an amazing way to experience different arts from all over.”