Sustainability in healthcare: an urgent search for a new balance

10:40 AM - 11:10 AM

Climate change has been designated as one of the biggest threats to public health in the 21st century by the World Health Organisation. Last year, more than 200 medical journals conjointly sounded the alarm on the urgent need for climate adaptation and mitigation measures. Ironically, the healthcare sector itself is a major contributor to climate change: constituting an average 4.4% of global carbon emissions, with larger contributions in more developed countries. To meet minimal CO2 equivalent emission reduction goals by 2030, as documented in the 2015 Paris Agreement (-49%) and recently in the European ‘Fit for 55’ strategy (-55%), an urgent transition to a more sustainable healthcare system is needed. Moreover, there is a growing interest and sense of responsibility among healthcare professionals in the attainment of policies and life style changes that simultaneously reduce environmental impact and benefit human health. Planetary Health is the research field that focusses on the complex relationship between human health and the viability of our planet.

During this presentation I will briefly elaborate on the relationship between climate change and health and focus on recent developments regarding ‘sustainability’ in the healthcare sector. While doing so, I will use the Dutch healthcare sector as a case example and discuss the role and activities of the ‘Groene Zorg Alliantie’ (Green Healthcare Alliance) in accelerating the transition to a sustainable healthcare sector.