Sustainable Healthcare Newsletter April 2020

Welcome to our latest Sustainable Healthcare newsletter. Thank you for everything you are doing to keep us safe from COVID-19, and your ongoing efforts to make healthcare more sustainable. We hope the news shared below highlights the some of the work that is continuing to make our healthcare systems more environmentally sustainable and resilient. 

Quick links


Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) membership in the Pacific Region (Australia and New Zealand) continues to grow with 85 members representing over 1,700 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 GGHH network.

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

Welcome to our new GGHH members

A warm welcome to West Wimmera Health Service and North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, our two newest GGHH members!

South Metropolitan Health Service supporting a local disability enterprise and reducing their waste

GGHH member South Metropolitan Health Service (SMHS) from Western Australia are committed to becoming a more environmentally sustainable health service.

Their Green Theatres Group have found a way to reduce their waste and support a local disability enterprise. The project centres around the huck towels used in theatre. Previously disposed of after a single use, the Green Theatres Group has partnered with disability provider ParaQuad Industries to lauder and sell the towels, providing employment for people with disabilities. SMHS have also developed a service-wide sustainability framework based on the 10 GGHH goals. Well done SMHS! 

Read more

How healthcare engineers can drive sustainability goals

Wendy Hird, the sustainability manager at GGHH member South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), has published an article in the Healthcare Facilities Journal (the official Journal of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering Australia - also GGHH members). The article explains how engineers can improve the sustainability of their health services using their expertise in waste, water, resource and risk management. SWSLHD are part of a pilot program trailing Warpit, online software that gives health services the ability to redistribute or donate biomedical equipment they not longer require, saving it from landfill.

Wendy also discusses the use of carbon reporting software to track SWSLHDs carbon footprint, the role of proactive facilities maintainence and how SWSLHD are assessing their climate risk.

Read the article on page 31 of the Healthcare Facilities Journal

Victorian Department of Health and Human Services February Sustainability Update

The February sustainability update from DHHS includes information on acheivements, resources available and issues of interest.

This update: introduces the department’s Pilot health and human services climate change adaptation plan 2019–21; includes resources they have developed to assist health services plan and report their environmental performance in line with the DHHS’s reporting guidelines;  includes a summary of key findings from their 'Waste in Healthcare' workshops; highlights The Victorian Government’s BetterHealth channel, a website which provides accessible, easy to understand health and medical information to consumers has also been updated to include information on the link between climate change and health; and more.

Read the full update here

Sustainable Healthcare News 

An in-depth look at coronavirus and the climate crisis

Health Care Without Harm's (HCWH) Josh Karliner dives into the the common causes and shared solutions of two major threats to health: coronavirus and the climate crisis.

Both coronavirus and the climate crisis (and our responses to them) are health emergencies which have the ability to transform our society. The differences lie in the speed at which the crisis and their impacts have occurred. The article divides the links between coronavirus and climate change into four areas: common causes, such a environmental destruction, co-morbidities, or how one compounds the health issues cause by the other, health inequities and the impact on vulnerable communities and health systems, and systems change - solutions that strive for climate justice and health equity.

Read more

Carbon neutral medical conferences

Many medical organisations have recognised the health emergency posed by climate change, however medical conferences often generate large amounts of single use items and waste as well as many attendees taking carbon intensive flights to reach the event. This article explores strategies used by the General Assembly of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations to imbed sustainability into the planning of a medical conference. This included asking attendees to provide their own cups, a focus on reusing and reducing waste, and considering ways to avoid long distance travel.

They argue that given the importance of the environment to health, medical conferences should be aiming to set the standard for sustainable events and educate their attendees on the rationale behind this. With webinars and virtual meetings becoming more accepted than ever before, virtual conferences could also be considered to reduce the environmental impact of long distance travel to events.

Read more


Eating green - incorporating sustainability into hospital food services 

Dietician Dr Jorja Collins has explored what makes hospital food services environmentally sustainable and the benefits of sustainable food for patients. Every patient in hospital requires food and the importance of good nutrition for health and healing are well known, but hospital food is often seen to be unappetising, contributing to a large amount of food waste and poorer nutrition.

In comparison to Australian hospitals Jorja has worked in, the hospitals Jorja visited in the US made sustainable packaging, good waste management and locally grown food a key feature of their food service, in line the with the GGHH goal of serving sustainable grown, healthy food.

Jorja identified the use of technology, education and staff and community engagement as key features of a sustainable food service. Hospitals in Australia are starting to focus on sustainability as a key element of their food service, for example GGHH member Royal Melbourne Hospital has partnered with OzHarvest to donate leftover meals and reduce food waste.

Read more 

COVID and the Climate Crisis: Mobilizing health for common solutions

Health Care Without Harm & the Skoll Foundation joined forces to host an online event comparing two major threats to public health: COVID-19 and the climate crisis. Both COVID-19 and the climate crisis pose challenges to our communities, health systems, governments and economies.

This 90- minute session included experts on infections disease, global health and sustainability. The panel compared and contrasted COVID and the climate crisis, discussing the shared challenges, impacts and potential solutions for both issues.

Watch the recording


Education and Events


The Health Emergency of Climate Change - online every Tuesday, April 28 - June 2

University of California are offering a 6 week online program about climate medicine, covering a different topic each week: climate health emergencies in the emergency department, how climate change affects your skin, climate change in the era of COVID, impacts on children, pregnant women & older people, air pollution & allergies, and the impact of the climate change emergency on mental health. With presenters from a range of specialities, this interactive webinar will give an in-depth look at many aspects of the health emergency of climate change.

Register here

Buying Power - online, May 14

The Business Renewables Centre Australia (BRC-A) helps organisations make the switch to renewable energy. BRC-A are facilitating a webinar aimed at sustainability managers, energy procurement managers, finance or contract managers and anyone other interested parties. Attendees will hear from experts about how to understand and engage with Retail PPAs (power purchasing agreements).

The webinar coincides with BRC-A's launch of their Retail PPA guide, designed to give Australian organisations the know-how to procure renewable PPAs.

Register here

Planetary Health Dialogues: Sustainable Healthcare - online, May 5

Join Dr David Pencheon, the founder of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit and Australian sustainable healthcare experts (including GGHH member Western Health's Dr Forbes McGain) in launching the Medical Journal of Australia's sustainable healthcare issue.

The launch will centre on around a discussion of the co-benefits of actions to improve health and mitigate climate change and the ways these can be harnessing in the context of the recent bushfires here in Australia and the global COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar takes place from 4:00pm - 5:00pm AEST on Tuesday 5 May. Places are limited, so follow the link to register!

Register here


CODA 2021 - Melbourne, April 19-23 2021

CODA 2020 has been postponed until April 19 - 23, 2021. This event focuses on interactive sessions to empower attendees to take action to tackle climate change and make healthcare more sustainable.

The program covers a wide variety of issues and specialities to ensure the event is relevant to people from all areas of healthcare: clinical medicine, learning, teaching, communicating, teamwork, crisis management, wellbeing, equity within medicine, dissemination of medical information, health economics and much more.

More info here

Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Conference - Aotearoa, June 2021

The Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Conference Aotearoa has been postponed until mid-June 2021. The event organisers are looking to run a series of webinars later this year in the lead up to the event.

Register for updates


Understanding the key concerns of Australian frontline healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic - Survey for doctors, nurses and paramedics 

Resource management, emergency preparedness and the mental wellbeing of healthcare professionals facing emergency situations are areas of overlap between the climate crisis and the current coronavirus pandemic. Researchers from Edith Cowan University in WA are undertaking research to better understand the key concerns of Australian healthcare workers amidst the pandemic.

Doctors, nurses and paramedics working in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic are invited to take to contribute to this research by completing an anonymous 5 – 10 minute online survey.

Take the survey

Research, Resources and Reports


Health systems towards zero emissions

In this paper, David Pencheon and Jeremy Wight discuss what is known about ways we can move our health systems towards net zero carbon as a response to the climate emergency.

The authors call for health professionals to respond to the health crisis posed by climate change in three ways: adaptation - preparing for the health impacts of a changing climate, mitigation - ensuring health systems are not contributing to the problem, and promoting health co-benefits - how actions to build a more sustainable environment will have positive impacts on health as well as the planet.

Read more


Clinical waste guidelines for healthcare staff

The Victorian Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) have developed resources to help health services manage their waste.

It includes waste management guidelines, a decision tree poster to assist staff in deciding which is the most appropriate bin for their waste, and a training presentation green champions can use to educate their colleagues and introduce the decision tree poster.

Access the resources here

Health Care Without Harm Coronavirus Resource Centre

In response to COVID-19, Health Care Without Harm have developed resources to help GGHH members around the world manage the increased amount of clinical waste that comes with managed higher numbers of potentially infectious patients.

They have brought together information from a range of sources to provide helpful, evidence based information including guidelines, guidance documents, and recommendations that zero in on responding to the current situation while also beginning to broadly explore the road ahead. It includes hands-on resources such as the medwaste guidance and the new piece on disinfection tunnels; analysis of info on issues like coronavirus, air pollution and climate; and the resources from the Skoll event. They will be regularly updating the page with more information

Access the resource centre here

Victorian DHHS Pilot Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan

The Victorian DHHS have released a pilot health & human services climate change adaptation action plan. The DHHS recognises that the effects of climate change are already being experienced in Victoria and urgent action is required. This action plan aims to build a climate resilient and environmentally sustainable health system by addressing four key areas for action: governance & regulation, communication & engagement, knowledge building, and assist readiness.

The pilot action plan is the first step in embedding climate change into policies and planning and is a milestone in building a systematic response to the impact of climate change on public health and the health system. With the final report from the Western Australian Climate Health Inquiry also due to be published soon, it is exciting to see states moving to bring climate change to the forefront of health system operations, policy and planning.

Read the plan


We want to profile stories of environmental iniatives 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 something to share let us know about it here, or email [email protected]


If you are interested in signing your organisation up 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]


About CAHA

This newsletter is brought to you by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). CAHA is the national climate and health peak body 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!