Just a few weeks have passed after the end of COP27, and the echoes of the conversations are still resonating. As the climate and health agenda advances and expands, we need to continue bringing front and center the conversations on just transition, equity, and adaptability. The health care sector has an important role to play: its footprint is equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions. That is to say, if it were a country, it would be the fifth-largest emitter on the planet.
At Health Care Without Harm, we are convinced that it is only through the power of collective action that we will achieve change. We work across our global network on innovative, solutions-oriented projects and initiatives to collectively seek to reduce the environmental impact of health care delivery, and on elevating the voice of the sector on the health impacts of climate change and air pollution.
Through our network, we are engaging in conversations and initiatives with national and local governments, multilateral organizations, hospitals and health systems, and health care workers on different initiatives on health care sustainability, resilience, and adaptability.
Climate Impact Checkup course in 2022. Photo: Health Care Without Harm SE Asia
Working with governments, decision-makers, and multilateral organizations
In 2022 we engaged with governments and health systems and worked closely with the WHO-led Alliance for Transformative Action in Climate and Health (ATACH), where we co-chair the low-carbon and sustainable health systems working group, and are part of the steering committee that aims at transforming how health care does business.
We participated in COP27, where we co-organized along UNFCCC Climate Champions and partners the Health Futures Lab event, and in the 5th Sustainable Production in the Health Sector Global Forum, co-organized with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition.
We were accredited as observers of the United Nations Environment Assembly, and participated in the first meeting of the International Negotiating Committee to create an internationally binding instrument to address plastic pollution; raising the importance of considering that the plastics crisis is not only environmental but also a global health threat.
The role of the health care sector
Our Global Green and Healthy Hospital (GGHH) network continues to grow and member organizations are now spanning 80 countries. This year we presented the new website and launched the Sustainable procurement checklist, a new tool for members to develop sustainable procurement programs, track progress, and identify priority areas to focus on.
We expanded our growing library of free resources with new product guidelines and launched six waste trackers specifically designed for health care facilities. This year also saw the kickstart of a new project in Nepal, in partnership with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and HECAF360, on health care waste management.
Early 2023 will also witness the culmination of one of our most ambitious projects: a free online course and training program for our tool Climate Impact Checkup. This tool is already being used by national and subnational governments, and by hundreds of health facilities all over the world, to calculate their scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.
Climate Impact Checkup is part of a broader initiative to help the health sector quantify and reduce emissions. In 2022 more health care organizations joined our Health Care Climate Challenge, a global initiative for institutions working in mitigation, resilience, and leadership to reduce emissions and protect communities from climate change. Organizations participating in the Challenge can also join the Race to Zero, a United Nations-backed campaign to rally participants to halve global emissions by 2030 and to which Health Care Without Harm is its partner for health care.
The voice of the sector
In December, we published our Just Transition position paper, centered on health arguments that support the non-proliferation of fossil fuels, while addressing the health and wellbeing of communities affected. We are also working on an advocacy guide for health care professionals to be launched in 2023.
This was only possible through the collective work across the Health Care Without Harm global network, and the generous support of donors.
Thank you, and wishing you a happy and peaceful end of the year
Health Care Without Harm, Global programs team