Sustainable Healthcare Newsletter December 2020


Welcome to our final Sustainable Healthcare newsletter of 2020. We are so grateful to everyone in the healthcare sector for your bravery and dedication responding to the pandemic this year. We're also grateful to the many sustainable healthcare champions throughout Australia and New Zealand who are working to make our healthcare system more sustainable and climate resilient. We hope the information shared here assists you in your work, and that you have a safe, healthy, enjoyable and rejuvenating holiday period.

Quick links


Global Green and Healthy Hospitals (GGHH) membership in the Pacific Region (Australia and New Zealand) has now reached 101 members! Together these 101 members represent 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.

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 new GGHH members

We're delighted to welcome the following members who have joined the GGHH network since our last newsletter: Maldon Hospital (Vic), Metro North Hospital and Health Service (Qld), Southern Neurology (NSW), Royal Women's Hospital (Vic), Swan Hill District Health (Vic).

2020 Health Care Climate Champion Award Winners 

Congratulations to the five GGHH members in our region who received 2020 Climate Champion awards:

Ambulance Victoria: Silver Renewable Energy & Gold Climate Leadership Awards

Auckland District Health Board: Gold GHG Reduction (Energy), Silver Climate Resilience & Gold Climate Leadership Awards

Northland District Health Board:
Gold GHG Reduction (Energy) Award

New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association: Gold Climate Leadership Award

UnitingCare Queensland: Silver Climate Leadership Award

We're proud to see these GGHH members receive this international recognition for their efforts to reduce their emissions, improve their climate resilience and/or show leadership for climate action.
Click here to read more about the work these Climate Champions have been doing or here to read Ambulance Victoria's case study on transitioning to renewable energy. Read more about the Health Care Climate Challenge, including how your health institution can take part, here.

Sustainable Healthcare News 

New Zealand government announces public sector will be carbon neutral by 2025

The New Zealand government has declared that the entire public sector will be carbon neutral by 2025. This commitment brings about new requirements for government agencies including District Health Boards, to measure and publicly report their emissions, and to offset emissions that can't be eliminated. The first point of focus will be supporting uptake of electric vehicles. New Zealand has pledged that the country will be carbon neutral by 2050 and this step shows the public sector will be leading by example.

Read more

Doctors and dentists back NZ government's commitment to carbon neutral

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) passed a resolution at their recent conference to advocate for all DHBs to actively engage in the government commitment to a carbon neutral public sector by 2025 by joining Toitū Envirocare - an organisation which has already helped six DHBs measure, report and reduce their environmental impact. ASMS also called for the development of a Sustainability Development Unit to co-ordinate the health sector's carbon neutral goal.

Read more

Western Australian Government release Climate Policy and Electric Vehicle Strategy

The Policy includes a commitment to 'establish a sustainable development unit in the Department of Health to promote sustainable development, reduce carbon emissions and energy costs, and improve health outcomes within the Western Australian health system'. It also includes an action to 'undertake reforms in areas that include policy and procurement to mitigate the health system’s environmental footprint. Plan and implement adaptations to reduce health risks of climate change for Western Australian communities'. Download the Climate Policy here.

One of the commitments from the EV Strategy is to 'invest funds to achieve a minimum 25 per cent electric vehicle target for all new light and small passenger, and small and medium SUV government fleet vehicles by 2025/26'. Download the EV Strategy here.

Qld government to install solar on 50 hospitals

In the lead up to the state election, the Queensland government announced a commitment to expand their solar panel and energy efficiency in healthcare program from one site to 50 sites across the state. The Queensland government also committed to creating a new office of hospital sustainability within the Queensland Dept of Health and pledge $30 million to slash hospital energy bills.

Bendigo Health win Premier's Sustainability Award

Congratulations to GGHH member Bendigo Health for recieving the Premier's Sustainability Award in the Health category for their curtain recycling initiative. Read more and watch a video about the initiative here.

AMA and DEA call for the government to address increasing risk of climate related disasters

One year after a summer of unprecedented fire in Australia, the Australian Medical Association and Doctors for the Environment Australia are calling on the government to develop a national climate and health strategy and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The health impacts of the bushfires are still being felt and it is time for the government to recognise that climate change helped fuel these fires. See the media release here.

Links between surgery and climate change

Rising temperatures, air pollution, more extreme weather events - these are all ways climate change will impact health and lead to more people requiring surgical care. Surgery is a vital part of a strong health system, yet 5 billion people globally do not have access to safe and timely surgical care. Although surgical demand will increase in response to climate change, surgeries themselves are resource intensive and contribute substantial greenhouse gas emissions. As health services work to scale up surgical services to meet the needs of their community, the impact these services have on climate change and how this can be reduced are a vital part of the discussion.

Read more

Education and Events


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 details will be released closer to the event date.

More information here

CleanMed Connect 2021 (US based - online)
Submission deadline 15 Jan 2021, Conference 18 - 20 May 2021

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. They are calling for your suggestions of topics, creative ideas and presenters you would like to see to taking part in the conference.

Sustainable Healthcare and Climate Health Aotearoa Forum (in person and online)
22 and 23 June 2021

Save the date! The University of Otago, OraTaiao NZ Climate and Health Council, Sustainable Health Sector National Network and GGHH Pacific region are in the process of organising next year's Forum. More details, including the event website, will be shared in our next newsletter. Catch up on this years online web series here.

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare - 2021 courses
January - May 2021

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in the UK run a number of short courses with topics ranging from an Introduction to Sustainable Healthcare, to Carbon Footprinting for Healthcare, to Green Dentistry and more. The courses are delivered online, but N.B. some of the workshop options are in the middle of the night for Australia and New Zealand. Find out more here.


Buying Power 2020 Webinar 7: PPAs for Better Health Outcomes, 30 Nov 2020 

Speakers included:

  • Dianna McDonald (Climate/Social Research, Sustainability Victoria) on the link between health and climate change
  • Cath O’Shea (Sustainability Analyst, Ambulance Victoria) on AV's experience entering into a renewable energy PPA on the journey to 100% renewables by 2025
  • Anita Stadler (Corporate Renewable Energy Strategist, Energetics) on the state of play in the PPA marketplace and discuss the opportunities for the healthcare sector.

Watch the recording here.

Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority Sustainability in Healthcare Forum, November 2020

This online forum focused on sharing environmental sustainability best practice across the Victorian health sector. The line up included speakers from Ambulance Victoria, Monash Health, Eastern Health, Peninsula Health, West Wimmera Health Service and South West Healthcare outlining their work to implement environmental sustainability best practice, along with presentations from representatives from VHHSBA and DHHS. 

View the recording of the Forum here.

Linking climate change to health outcomes, lunch time webinar series, September - November

This Environmental Health Webinar Series  was a lunchtime web series presented by WA Primary Health Alliance, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Doctors for the Environment Australia and HealthPathways WA. Recordings of each webinar in the series is available from the link above. 

Better, Healthier Futures Webinar, November

In this webinar CAHA's Fiona Armstrong, along with Dr Kate Wylie from Doctors for the Environment Australia, and Dr Simon Judkins from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine discuss better, healthier futures, as part of the Better Futures Australia initiative. CAHA has been working with partners to develop Better Futures Australia which aims to inspire action and demonstrate the momentum across all sectors of Australia to tackle climate change today. Read and sign the Better Futures Australia Declaration hereSign up share your story of climate action here

Watch the webinar here.



Tell your local MP: Support a healthy, regenerative & just future

Healthy, Regenerative and Just: Our Vision for a Better Future is CAHA's new policy agenda, supported by a coalition of leading health groups, informed by 100+ thought leaders as a roadmap to the future we want in 2030. The policy agenda outlines recommendations under eight areas of policy action, including 'A sustainable and climate-resilient
health care sector'.

Show your support by sending a copy of our policy agenda to your local MP in 2 minutes using this quick tool, and let them know that you want a healthy, regenerative and just future.

Research, Resources and Reports


Net Zero Carbon Emissions Report: responsibilities, pathways and opportunities for Australia’s healthcare sector

This report from Doctors for the Environment Australia calls on the healthcare sector to achieve:

  • An interim emission reduction target of 80% by 2030.
  • Net zero emissions by 2040.

The report charts a course of action including recommendations such as the development of a national Sustainable Healthcare Unit.

Download the report here.

Climate Health WA Inquiry: Final Report

The recently released Climate Health Inquiry WA report sets a blueprint for the next 10 years of the WA health system’s response to adapt to climate change to protect the health of the community and how health services can do more to reduce emissions and waste. The Report makes 10 recommendations to plan and respond to the health impacts of climate change.

Download the report here. Read a summary of the report by Croakey here.

Climate Change and Health: Preparing for the Next Disaster

This report from the Grattan Institute focuses on how climate change is harming Australian's health, improving health sector resilience and building a carbon neutral healthcare system.

The report puts forward a number of arguments including that the health sector should provide an example for other sectors to follow - "State and territory public health sectors should, by 2023, develop plans for net-zero public health sectors".

Download the report here.

2020 Lancet Countdown on Health & Climate Change

The Lancet's annual report tracks the relationship between climate and health globally. A key message of this year's report is that no country is immune from the health impacts of climate change, as we have seen by the converging crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. A recovery from Covid-19 centred around health and environment offers the opportunity to improve public health, protect our environment and build sustainable economies but we must act now.

Read the report

2020 MJA-Lancet Countdown: lessons learnt from Australia's 'Black Summer'

The Medical Journal of Australia have partnered with the Lancet for a third year to produce an assessment of Australia's progress on climate change and health. Their report shows a growing awareness among Australians of the links between health and climate change but a disappointing lack of a nationwide climate and health adaptation plan.

Read the report

South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Climate Risk Report

This report examines the main climate risks for SESLHD: air pollution and extreme heat. It considers the
impacts for their patients and communities, and how their priority populations and others at
greater risk will be affected. It includes recommendations to serve as a starting point for SESLHD to respond to the health risks of a changing climate.

Read the report here.

Promoting Safer Disinfectants in the Healthcare Sector

This report presents the final results of HCWH Europe’s SAICM 2.0 project, a two-year pilot project that aims to reduce the unintended hazards of disinfectants used in healthcare, without compromising on hygienic and occupational health standards. 
The report includes: Results of a survey (of 80 healthcare providers from 19 countries) aimed at gathering information on the practices of procurement and application of disinfectants within healthcare organisations; case studies from hospitals that were given tailored support identifying and testing safer disinfectants; suggestions for choosing disinfectants products and exploring systemic alternatives to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.

Reimagining Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Supply Chains 

This white paper from the Healthcare Anchor Network (HAN) in the United States includes an analysis of PPE and supply chains, a summary of interviews with health system stakeholders and potential next steps, paths forward, and areas for further discussion and research.

Read more and download the white paper here.



Waste Management Resources from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services have a number of resources available to assist with improved waste management. Including waste segregation posters that are department specific (available here), auditing guidelines for waste disposal (available here), and guidelines, waste decision tree and teaching power point on clinical waste (available here).

The resources have been developed for health services in Victoria, but may be usable in other areas depending on regulations and recycling opportunities available.

WrapBack sterilisation wrap recycling program

WrapBack is a recycling program that helps hospitals recycle sterilisation wrap. For a membership fee, WrapBack provides assitance to determine if sterilisation wrap recycling makes good business sense, a guide to set up a recycling program, staff engagement/education resources and access to collectors and recyclers. The program is currently available in NSW. Hospitals in other states and territories (except Tas) can 'pre-register' their interest in the program. Read more here.

Resources for Sustainability in Quality Improvment

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in the UK has relaunched their open access resources for Sustainable Quality Improvement. Access resources and read more here. Resources include

  • Project resources (Step by Step Guidance on how to do a QI project)
  • Educator pack (Curriculum and Lesson Plans for QI educators)
  • Case studies (Successul Implementation and worked examples)

List of Healthcare Sector Environmental Sustainabilty 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.


The Carbon Footprint of Surgical Operations: A Systematic Review

This systematic review evaluated existing literature calculating the carbon footprint of surgical operations, to determine opportunities for improving the environmental impact of surgery.

It found "the carbon footprint of a single operation ranged 6–814 kg carbon dioxide equivalents. The studies found that major carbon hotspots within the examined operating theatres were electricity use, and procurement of consumables."

Read the abstract and access the article here.

“I teach it because it is the biggest threat to health”: Integrating sustainable healthcare into health professions education

A team of researchers from Monash University's Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences have been exploring how to best teach the future health workforce about environmental sustainability and its impacts.
The researchers surveyed educators' capacity to teach health professions students on this topic, and then ran a hackathon to come up with a way forward. Results from the hackathon were thematically analysed to produce five recommendations.

Read the abstract and access the article here.

Healthcare as a solution to the climate crisis - Improving rural health care reduces illegal logging and conserves carbon in a tropical forest

We know the climate has a direct impact on our health, but how about the other way around? A new study has found that in the 10 years after an affordable healthcare clinic opened in rural Indonesia, deforestation in the nearby national park decreased by 70% - equivalent to over 6,770 acres of rainforest. The study theorises that providing affordable healthcare reduced the incentives for illegal logging.

Read more


Thank you to our CAHA volunteers!

This year we've been fortunate to have a number of expectional volunteers helping deliver our sustainable healthcare program. Below is some information about each of them and the work they do with CAHA. We're incredibly grateful for the time and expertise they've generously shared with us this year! 

Dionysia Evitaputri

Dion is a Masters of Science student in marine ecology and an early childhood educator who’s concerned about the impact of the climate crisis on the future of our health. Dion helps out with communications across all of CAHA's programs and campaigns.

Hannah Bylsma

Hannah is an Associate Nurse Unit Manager at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and is studying a Masters of Public Health. Hannah also finds time in her busy schedule to help develop these Sustainable Healthcare newsletters.

Jette Bollerup

Jette has extensive experience in the health sector ranging from nursing and midwifery in major public hospitals, policy development and program management for NSW Health to lecturing in public health and health promotion at university. Her experience also includes public sector work in energy efficiency and renewable energy and private sector work in waste and litter management. Jette has been helping to write GGHH member case studies this year.

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.  An interest she developed while working as a Registered Nurse in operating theatres where the need for improved sustainability practices and policies became clear.  Julia has been providing general support for our sustainable healthcare program.

Olivia D'Souza

Olivia completed a Master of Business Administration specialing in Healthcare Management in 2019. She helped to write GGHH case studies and compiled our Greening the Healthcare Sector Forum 2019 report. She now works as Volunteer Coordinator at Western Health.

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]

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!