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Sustainability and healthcare

02 May 2022
Volume 27 · Issue 5

In 2015, 193 countries signed up to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN has identified 17 SDGs that focus on people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. While SDG 13 focuses on climate action, it is evident that all the SDGs impact each other. The impact of climate change is a topic of global discussion and debate. In the autumn of 2021, the UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). COP26 identified four key targets: (i) to secure global net zero emissions by the middle of the century, (ii) to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, (iii) to ensure financial aid is available to deliver on the first two goals, and (iv) to work together to deliver on climate change.

While climate change is an important concern for all, the enormity of the topic can make it feel as if there is little that one person can do to make an impact. However, it is imperative that everyone, including healthcare professionals, consider their contribution to sustainability. The impact of healthcare (which contributes 4.4% towards the global carbon footprint) on climate change is considerable (Health Care Without Harm, 2019). District nursing teams have much to offer when considering sustainability. The Campaign for Greener Healthcare has identified four principles of sustainable healthcare, which are: disease prevention and health promotion; patient education and empowerment; lean service delivery; and preferential use of treatment options and medical technologies with lower environmental impact (Mortimer, 2010). District nursing teams can influence clinical practice based on these four principles.

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