Sustainable Healthcare News April 2021

Welcome to our April 2021 Sustainable Healthcare newsletter. We hope the information shared here assists you in your efforts to make our healthcare systems more environmentally sustainable and resilient. 

In this newsletter:

  • GGHH News
  • Sustainable healthcare news
  • Education and Events
  • Advocacy
  • Reports, resources and research



Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) membership in the Pacific Region (Australia and New Zealand) has now reached 105 members! Together these members represent over 1,800 hospitals and health services. More and more health institutions are working to improve their environmental footprint, and protect environmental and human health. They're also realising that it makes sense to do this together through the (free) GGHH network.

You can view a list of GGHH members in the Pacific region here.

If you would like to join the GGHH network or find out more, visit the website or email [email protected] 

Welcome to our most recent GGHH Pacific region member

We're delighted to welcome St. John of God Health Care to the GGHH network!

Extended: Call for Abstracts  - Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Conference | Wellington and online, 22 and 23 June 2021

The call for abstracts for this years conference have been extended. In our commitment to presenting a conference with a broad scope, we wish to make a further focused call for abstracts, from people doing research, practice and advocacy in climate change and health, particularly Māori and Pasifika researchers and practitioners.

Examples of topics of priority interest for this extended call include: 

  • Effects of climate change on health and health equity, particularly hauora Māori
  • Health co-benefits of climate change mitigation
  • Health/hauora and health equity-centred climate change adaptation
  • Health equity and te Tiriti in climate policy-making
  • Health, equity and sustainability in the built environment, housing and infrastructure
  • Climate change and health in transport and energy systems
  • Communication and collaboration

The deadline for abstracts is now: 30 April 2021 

The University of Otago, OraTaiao NZ Climate and Health Council, Sustainable Health Sector National Network and GGHH Pacific region are partnering to deliver this annual event. Read more here.

Case study - Regional Health Solar Program: Victorian Health Building Authority/Department of Health

This recently released GGHH case study from the Victorian Health Building Authority provides an overview of their Regional Health Solar Program.  Through the Program 8.6 megawatt-peak solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays will be installed across 73 regional Victorian health facilities generating more than 11 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy/year.

Read the case study here.  

More case studies from GGHH members worldwide are available open-access here

Sustainable Healthcare News 

Global Road Map for Healthcare Decarbonisation launched!

The groundbreaking new Global Road Map for Healthcare Decarbonisation: A navigational tool for achieving zero emissions with climate resilience and health equity is now available.

The Road Map, developed by Health Care Without Harm in collaboration with Arup, sets out actions the health sector can take to align itself with the ambition of the Paris Agreement while simultaneously achieving global health goals. 

 Along with outlining why the health sector must decarbonise, the Road Map:

  • Sets out possible healthcare emissions trajectories up to 2050
  • Identifies three decarbonisation pathways the health sector needs to navigate to reduce emissions
  • Highlights 7 high impact action areas for the health sector to take
  • Outlines high level recommendations for driving change

 Download the Road Map and accompanying resources here.

Ambulance Victoria announce ambitious emissions reduction targets

Ambulance Victoria, a GGHH member, recently announced their emissions reduction targets for scope 1 and 2 emissions (from a 2015 baseline):

  • 39% emissions reduction by 2025
  • 60% emissions reduction by 2030
  • Net zero emissions by 2045 (5 years earlier than originally planned)

By 2030 AV aims to halve the carbon impact of each of the patients they serve. AV plan to achieve these commitments through renewable energy use, retrofitting buildings with solar panels and batteries, and adopting hybrid vehicles and transitioning to zero emission vehicles.

Read more here

UnitingCare Queensland release their Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2021 - 2025

GGHH members UnitingCare Queensland recently released their Environmental Sustainability Strategy 2021 - 2025.  The strategy includes six areas for intervention - built environment, waste, transport, purchasing, empowering people, and leadership.  Some of their targets are to:

  • Reduce their carbon footprint by 70%  
  • Source 100% renewable electricity 
  • Transition to 100% hybrid and electric passenger fleet  
  • Ensure 100% of strategic procurement tenders include environmental sustainability criteria
  • Divert 30% of the non-clinical waste from landfill

Read the full report here


AMA and DEA joint statement calling for emissions reduction in healthcare

GGHH member the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) have released a joint statement which calls on the Australian healthcare sector to reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2040, with an interim emission reduction target of 80 per cent by 2030.  The statement includes recommendations for several actions to enable emissions reduction in the healthcare sector including:

  • The establishment of a national sustainable healthcare unit;
  • The prioritisation of prevention, primary care and sustainable models of care;
  • The procurement of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and goods with low carbon footprints
  • A reduction in travel emissions through telemedicine and electric vehicle fleets.

Read the full statement here

The Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA): March Sustainability in Healthcare update

The Sustainability in Healthcare update is produced by the Victorian Health Building Authority to inform Victorian health services on sustainability initiatives being implemented across the healthcare sector, as well as key sustainability issues of interest.  Some of the topics covered in this update include: Victoria’s New Environment Protection Law; a Waste management update; Health and human services climate change adaptation action plan update and call for workshop nominees.

Read the update here

Call to Action and Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector 

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) launched this Call to Action on Earth Day last week. The Call to Action highlights opportunities for the eye health sector to show leadership and accelerate efforts to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change through prioritizing key actions.

The 10 key areas of action include leadership, advocacy, sustainable procurement, facilities management, service delivery, education, research and collaboration. IAPB have also developed an accompanying Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector, which provides tools and resources to support organizations along this journey towards mitigating their own climate impacts. 

Read more, access the call to action and the guide here.

Return Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project - 20% Increase in Collections Following Brown Paper Bag Program

Disposal of expired or unwanted medicine can lead to environmental damage.  A pilot project in the Northern Beaches of Sydney aimed to increase the use of the Returned and Unwanted Medicines (RUM) project by providing pharmacies with branded brown paper bags to give to patients to ease in returning unwanted or unused products.  An additional 300kg of expired and unwanted medicine was returned during the period which was a 20% increase overall. 

Find out more here

Medical Pantry seeking financial donations for warehouse lease

Medical Pantry is a registered charity in Australia that donates medical supplies for animal welfare groups and humanitarian aid relief that would otherwise go to landfill. They are currently running a GoFundMe campain to fund their warehouse lease and allow them to continue operations.

Read more about Medical Pantry here. Donate to the campaign here.

Argentina sets example as first country to include healthcare decarbonisation in its global climate commitment 

Argentina’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the end of 2020, establishes health as a cross-cutting issue, central to addressing climate change. It identifies health-centered climate adaptation and resilience measures as have other countries. However, in a new development, Argentina’s NDC calls for an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from its health care sector itself and the establishment of actions to reduce those emissions as a priority for implementing their NDC.  

Read about it here

Meet some of the health professionals and organisations leading on climate action

In his latest Climate Health: Out of the Box column, emergency medicine specialist Dr Simon Judkins introduces readers to some of the people and organisations providing leadership on climate action within health systems – from Victoria to the ACT, England and Wales.

Read the column here.

Education and Events


Planetary Health Week | On now - 25 - 30 April 
Online, free

Planetary health is a transdisciplinary and solutions-oriented frame for understanding and addressing the greatest challenges of our time: the transformation and degradation of Earth's biodiversity and natural systems, and its interconnected impacts on human health and all life on our shared planet.

The 4th Planetary Health Annual Meeting aims to bridge communities to achieve the Great Transition by highlighting collective planetary health values; showcasing change-making science, stories, solutions, and communities; and building systemic solutions across economics, governance, and civil society. 

​This Planetary Health Week is a virtual convening of scientists, youth, policymakers, educators, private sector, artists, and more to learn about the complexities of planetary health science, find community, seek solutions, and build skills for action and change.

Read more and register here.

ANMF (Vic) Health & Environmental Sustainability Conference | 6 May 2021

The ANMF (Vic Branch) Health & Environmental Sustainability Conference is returning in 2021. Attendees will learn new ways to reduce waste, promote sustainability, improve their community and connect with health professionals working to protect our environment. Keynote presenters will explore the impact of the environment on the health system, our personal wellness and our future resources. Registration and agenda details have now been released. 

More information here

CleanMed Connect 2021 | 18 - 20 May 2021
Online, US based

CleanMed Connect is a US based conference led by Practice Greenhealth and Health Care Without Harm. The conference focuses on sustainable healthcare and is moving online for 2021, giving health care professionals from around the world the chance to join. The focus this year will be on developing a collective vision for sustainability in healthcare.

Read more and register here.

Webinar | Tackling harmful chemicals in medical devices | 26 May 2021 9pm AEST

This webinar hosted by Health Care Without Harm Europe will:

  • Outline the current regulatory framework applicable to medical devices and opportunities it brings.
  • Show recent evidence of infant patients’ exposure to EDCs during the course of clinical care.
  • Highlight current knowledge deficits among healthcare providers working with most vulnerable patients (neonatologists).
  • Emphasise that further awareness and collaboration for substitution is needed amongst healthcare professionals.
  • Raise awareness amongst healthcare providers and inspire them to seek safer alternatives and demand for PVC- and DEHP-free medical devices.

Read more and register here.

Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Conference | 22 and 23 June 2021, Wellington and online

The University of Otago, OraTaiao NZ Climate and Health Council, Sustainable Health Sector National Network and GGHH Pacific region are partnering to deliver this annual event. This year's theme is 'Re-thinking sustainable healthcare'. 

The programme will include presentations and interactive discussions focusing on carbon reduction and opportunities for creating a better and more sustainable future for all New Zealanders. Sustainable healthcare can bring wide co-benefits to health, health equity and well-being and the conference will address topics of mitigation, adaptation, risk, opportunity, and innovation. 

Details for registrations will be sent through to Sustainable Healthcare subscribers when they become available.  Click here for further details. 


From data to action: How to reduce food waste in European healthcare

Over the past three years, Health Care Without Harm Europe and the Hospital of Niort have run the MECAHF project, a pilot project to measure and reduce food waste.

In this webinar the project coordinator presents an overview of the project's objectives and the actions taken to achieve them, as well as the set of tools that were created as part of the project to measure food waste, and the carbon footprint of food products in order to inform and support purchasing decisions.

Watch the webinar here.

Business Renewables Centre Australia: Government Leadership and the Queensland Renewable Energy Strategy: Race to the Top

This webinar discussed how government leadership can drive positive environmental, social and economic outcomes through Renewable Corporate PPAs. 

Watch the full recording here 

Doctors for the Environment Australia: After Hours sessions 

Doctors for the Environment Australia are holding a monthly webinar series focusing on climate change and human health. 

The recording of the first session, presented by Dr Kate Wylie on Climate Change and Human Health is now available here.

The second session presented by Dr Ben Ewald focused on air pollution; the health threats it poses; its relationship to climate change and how health professionals can respond to these developments.  A recording will be added to the series website.

Safe Hospitals Webinar Series

This series was Organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, World Health Organization and the International Hospital Federation. The series included 4 webinars focusing on:

  • Managing emergency and disaster risks in hospitals during a pandemic and hospital vaccine readiness;
  • Hospitals and national strategic plans for emergencies and disasters from all hazards
  • Long-term care facilities and long-term care services in hospitals during a pandemic
  • Health facilities post-COVID-19 and beyond: safe, functional, climate-resilient and environmentally sustainable (Featuring CAHA's Executive Director Fiona Armstrong presenting on sustainable healthcare in Australia)

Watch the recordings here.


Better Futures Australia: Last chance for health organisations to sign open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison

As part of the Better Futures Australia initiative, health leaders have drafted this Open Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlining three key actions that the Federal Government must take to promote positive health and environmental outcomes:

  1. Prioritise health in the context of Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement
  2. Commit to the decarbonisation of the healthcare sector by 2040, and to the establishment of an Australian Sustainable Healthcare Unit
  3. Implement a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Wellbeing for Australia

If your health organisation would like to be a signatory to this Open Letter, please email [email protected] to confirm this and attached your logo by 3pm Wednesday 28th April.

Read more about Better Futures Australia here.

Research, Resources and Reports


Australia in 2030: Possible Alternative Futures

CAHA recently released a new report Australia in 2030 - Possible Alternative Futures, outlining five scenarios which could await us in 2030, depending on the choices we make as a society. To develop the scenarios, CAHA brought together 100+ thought leaders and futures experts last year to offer their expertise and unique perspectives. 

The report and scenarios were launched in Melbourne during the 2021 Sustainable Living Festival – watch the highlights reel here

Growing food, growing healthy communities: Opportunities for the European healthcare sector

This report by Health Care Without Harm Europe provides case studies from across European healthcare that demonstrate the many environmental, social, and economic benefits of using green spaces within healthcare facilities for gardening and growing food.

Read more here



Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) Victorian Branch - Health and Environmental Sustainability Resource List 

ANMF Vic Branch have collated a range of sustainable healthcare resources and information from various sources, grouping them by topic (e.g. waste segregation, pharmaceutical waste, organics diversion, climate change impacts on health and wellbeing, and more).

The resources included align with Victorian guidance and regulation.

Find them here

TRA2SH - Trainee-Led Research and Audit in Anaesthesia for Sustainability in Healthcare

An initiative lead by Anaesthetic trainees with a mission to "stimulate a positive culture change in sustainable practices in anaesthesia by promoting curiosity amongst trainees, encouraging reflection and problem-solving within departments, whilst upholding the highest standards of patient care".

TRA2SH run projects, conduct surveys/audits, provide local sustainability project ideas (e.g. reducing desflurane use, reusing equipment), and resources. Their projects are designed with Anaesthetic trainees in mind but anyone can participate, make use of their resources and sign up to receive information.

Resources include:

  • Responses for FAQs such as 'Hospitals make so much waste, will this change anything?'

  • Info graphics for social media (see right)

Read more here

Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) released this Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Practices in the Eye Health Sector along with a Call to Action (see news section). The guide provides tools and resources to support organizations along their journey towards mitigating their own climate impacts. 

Download the guide here.

Guidance for Sustainable Glove Purchasing - Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth (US based) have developed this guidance to help health services purchase gloves that meet environmental, health, and labor standards without compromising patient safety or care.

View the guide here.

List of Healthcare Sector Environmental Sustainability Plans and Strategies

View a list of environmental sustainability plans, strategies and frameworks from a number of Global Green and Healthy Hospital members in the Pacific region here.


Is climate change exacerbating health-care workforce shortages for underserved populations?
Pendrey, CG et al.

The authors of this article surveyed registered practicing medical professionals working in the Northern Territory to assess their perceptions of climate-related health effects and investigate whether climate change is affecting their intentions to stay in the Northern Territory. 

"Over a third (34%) of the respondents indicated that climate change is already causing, or likely to cause, them to consider leaving the Northern Territory. 85% of respondents reported that climate change is already causing, or likely to cause, negative effects on the health of their patients, and nearly three-quarters (74%) responded that climate change is already causing, or likely to cause, parts of the Northern Territory to become uninhabitable." 

Read the full article here

Views of health professionals on climate change and health: a multinational survey study
Kotcher, J et al.

This multinational survey of health professionals published in the Lancet Planetary health investigated health professionals views towards climate change and health, and the barriers they felt prevented them from taking action.  Among other findings, it shows that a majority of respondents (98%) thought healthcare workers should actively encourage their nation's leaders to strengethen their commitments to acheiveing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Read the full article here


Share your sustainable healthcare success story

We want to profile stories of environmental initiatives in health (no matter how big or small) to show what is possible and inspire others to improve sustainability in their own workplace. If you have a project you'd like to share with us to include in this newsletter and feature on our social media, let us know about it here, or email [email protected]


If you are interested in signing up your organisation to become a member of the Global Green and Health Hospitals Network, please click here to see more details about the program and how to join, or email [email protected]

This newsletter has been developed with the help of CAHA's Sustainable Healthcare volunteer Julia Read...

Julia is a Master of Environment and Public Health student at the University of Melbourne and has a strong interest in the health impacts of climate change and improving the sustainability of the health sector.  Julia has been providing general support for our sustainable healthcare program.

About CAHA

This newsletter is brought to you by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). CAHA is Australia's national peak body on climate and health, with the mission to build a powerful health sector movement for climate action. To do this, we run a number of campaigns and programs along with our sustainable healthcare program, click the links to find out more:

If you’d like to stay in touch and see other important stories, make sure you follow CAHA on Twitter and Facebook.

Did you know individuals, as well as organisations, can join CAHA? If you like what we do, and would like to support our work, please join and become a member of the Climate and Health Alliance. You will be joining a dynamic effort to ensure people's health and well-being is central to national and global efforts to respond to climate change. To join CAHA, follow this link!