Health Care Worldwide Calls for Action on Climate Change

Declaration endorsed by institutions representing more than 10,000 hospitals

Bonn, Germany—With global climate negotiations beginning their second week at COP23, leading hospitals and health systems around the world issued a Call to Action for the health sector to play a leadership role in tackling climate change.

Health Care Without Harm delivered the Call to Action to the World Health Organization's Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a high-level event on climate and health at COP23. "The health impacts of climate change and the health benefits of climate action are becoming increasingly clear,” said Director General Tedros. "Health care, with its hospitals on the front lines, must be part of the solution."

Organized by Health Care Without Harm and its Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network, 137 institutions in 33 countries, representing the interests of more than 10,100 hospitals and health centers have joined the Health Care Call to Action on Climate Change.

"As health care providers, we recognize that many of our institutions have a major carbon footprint," participating hospitals declared. "We have the opportunity and responsibility to align our actions with the Paris Agreement and support its implementation."

"All of us must do our part to address climate change by implementing renewable energy, clean transportation, green building and sustainable procurement strategies."

In the wake of several extreme weather events around the world that have disabled and devastated hospitals and health centers and the communities they serve, the Call to Action recognizes that as a front-line first responder, the health care sector must build resilience into our systems and facilities to best prepare for serious climate change-induced extreme weather impacts.

The Call to Action was delivered by HCWH to World Health Organization Director General Tedros. Together with Director General Tedros in the photo are HCWH International Program and Strategy Director Josh Karliner, the ministers of health of Fiji (presidency of COP23) and the Cook Islands, and the Princess of Jordan.

The hospitals and health systems endorsing the Call to Action represent a broad diversity of health care institutions around the world, ranging from national health systems in countries as diverse as England and Palau, to sub-national health ministries and systems in Brazil, Colombia and South Africa, to large private or non-profit health systems in Germany, South Korea, the Philippines, and the United States. 

"By coming together around this Call to Action health care is showing that it has an important role to play in every country to address climate change and help implement the Paris Agreement” said Josh Karliner, International Director of Program and Strategy for Health Care Without Harm. "Hospitals the world over can become 'climate-smart' and provide leadership to address one of the greatest health threats of all time."

Leaders of health care institutions endorsing the Health Care Call to Action on Climate Change had this to say:

"The ambitious targets agreed upon at COP21 in Paris will require every sector to contribute if we are to have any chance of tackling dangerous and unhealthy climate change. As health professionals, we have an obligation to first, do no harm to both the health of our communities and the planet. The health and care sector has the political and economic leverage, as well as the moral obligation to lead from the front when it comes to climate change."

--David Pencheon, Director, Sustainable Development Unit for NHS England and Public Health England


"We are helping create momentum in the United States to transition to a low-carbon economy. Health care can help lead the way by reducing our own carbon footprint, investing our resources in renewable energy and advocating in our communities and countries to protect people’s health from climate change."

--Kathy Gerwig, vice president and environmental stewardship officer, Kaiser Permanente, USA


"We are building a coalition of hospitals and health systems in India that is taking action to address both climate change and air pollution. By implementing climate-smart health care strategies, our institutions have an important role to play in contributing to the transition to a low-carbon economy in India and around the world."

--Alex Thomas, President, Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI) and Chair, Health and Environmental Leadership Platform (HELP), India


"The São Paulo State Health Secretariat is fully committed with its State Policy on Climate Change implementation and in mobilizing its health care network (70 hospitals and hundreds of other health care facilities) to became an example, leading the public health protection against climate threats and in building a low carbon healthcare system."

--Dr Eduardo Ribeiro Adriano, deputy secretary of São Paulo State Health Secretariat, Brazil


"Our hospitals have to be prepared to serve our communities in the face of growing threats from typhoons, heat waves and the shifting burden of disease."

--Sister Arcelita Sarnillo, Saint Paul de Chartres Health Care Ministry (SPCHCM) in the Philippines


"Climate change has a great impact on health in Africa and in the entire world, and causes human and material damage. In front of this alarming situation, we are all obliged to put in place strategies to combat climate change in our health systems today. We have only one planet and only one opportunity to save it."

--Ahmed Idhammad, Head Of Sustainable Department - The Mohammed VI University Hospital of Marrakesh


"Thanks to intelligent solutions, we at the LVR-Klinik Bonn reduced CO2 emissions by more than 40 percent compared to 1998, thereby making an important contribution to the implementation of national climate targets. In doing so, we assume social responsibility and combine modern treatment methods with sustainable environmental protection. We are proud of that and want to be a role model for other clinics, which is one of the reasons we are delighted to endorse the Health Care Call to Action on Climate Change."

--Ludger Greulich, CEO LVR-Klinik Bonn, Germany


"Dignity Health has long been dedicated to addressing issues related to climate change as part of our healing mission and broader commitment to the health of our planet. As a major healthcare provider, we see the intrinsic link between climate change and public health, particularly in vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected. We continue our unwavering support of global climate solutions, including the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, and have undertaken significant action to reduce our own carbon footprint to advance climate-smart health care."

--Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, VP Corporate Responsibility, Dignity Health


"Climate change is now a reality, and healthcare must not be indecisive or take gradual measures. We need to implement strong environmental policies to increase resilience and protect public health."

--Lic. Verónica Clavel, Hospital Público Descentralizado Dr. Guillermo Rawson de San Juan, Argentina


Call to Action on Climate Change and Health


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About Health Care Without Harm

Health Care Without Harm works to transform the health sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it becomes ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice.

About Global Green and Healthy Hospitals

Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Health Hospitals Network (GGHH) has 900 members representing more than 28,000 hospitals and health centers on every continent. Health Care Without Harm supports the scale-up of innovative climate mitigation models, resilience, and leadership through the GGHH Network’s 2020 Healthcare Climate Challenge.