It was a fantastic opening day of Europe's leading conference on sustainable healthcare in the European Green Capital 2018. For some participants the conference started on Tuesday with the pre-conference workshop on food, where many case studies of food procurement innovation and food waste reduction were presented and participants discussed the challenges in implementing healthy and sustainable food policies. For many participants it was an early start with pre-conference events - some took a walking tour of the Radboudumc campus and learnt more about the Green Capital, and best practices of innovative solutions in climate adaptation, cycling, energy, water and waste management, and citizen engagement.
Some participants joined the on the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council [HPRC] workshop where they discussed the challenges of recycling plastic in healthcare, which included a presentation from Aarhus University Hospital and breakout discussion groups.
The exhibitions opened as more participants arrived for the opening keynote where Radboudumc Dean and Vice-Chair of the Executive Board - Paul Smits welcomed the audience to CleanMed Europe 2018. Paul stressed that sustainability has been incorporated as a core aspect of Radboudumc’s strategy.
Anders Bolmstedt, Chair of the HCWH Europe board added his welcome, encouraging participants to meet with everyone they can and take advantage of the great opportunities that CleanMed Europe provides to forge partnerships and create and foster networks.
Mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls added his welcome and shared his excitement for the City of Nijmegen to bear the European Green Capital title and that the city considers CleanMed Europe 2018 a highlight of their Green Capital calendar, a fitting event to begin on sustainability day. Mayor Bruls highlighted that as 70% of European citizens living in cities, cities must show leadership and use urban policies as drivers of sustainability - the “new normal”.
To continue on the theme of leadership Dr Jeff Thompson gave his keynote address by introducing the work of Gundersen Health System, which became energy-neutral in 2014. Dr. Thompson’s inspiring and lively address explained a variety of approaches used in Gundersen’s sustainability journey, from critically analysing their waste to technological innovations in renewable energy and re-using waste products.
After a vegetarian lunch and browsing the poster presentations and exhibitions on offer, participants then broke out into the six parallel sessions on offer, covering topics such as pharmaceuticals in the envt, leadership for environmentally-sustainable healthcare, or healthy and sustainable hospital design to create healing environment for patients and staff.
For the final plenary of the day, the Dutch Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins declared the Dutch Government’s commitment to more environmental sustainability with all stakeholders through The Green Deal for healthcare. Mr Bruins observed that the healthcare sector designed to heal and yet it is a large contributor to environmental degradation, and this is a contradiction that we can and must resolve.
Robert Metzke, Chief of Staff Innovation & Strategy and Head of Sustainability at Philips then showed us that as countries’ innovations increase, they are consuming more resources than our planet can provide and explained how Philips are focusing on where they can have the most impact. Sustainable Development Goals 2 – Good health and well-being, 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, and 13 – Climate Action in particular are areas where Philip can have a great impact. Philips goal is become Net climate-neutral by 2020, and to close the loop on large medical systems by 2025. Philips are working towards a more sustainable supply chain, with greater engagement and transparency.
Closing the session, Rosemary Kumwenda – UNDP Regional Team Leader and SPHS Co-ordinator shared her presentation with colleague Susan Wilburn, International Sustainability Director of Health Care Without Harm to introduce the Strengthening Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP).
Susan showed how the ten goals of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals network show that sustainable procurement can positively contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Looking at product life-cycles, there is a great opportunity to reduce their environmental impact through sustainable supply chains that include renewable energy and safer chemicals for example.
The SHiPP project will promote sustainability in the health sector in the Global South and address the intersection between health, human rights, and the environment. By aggregating demand for sustainable manufacturing and waste management to impact positively on the environment and in human health. The project outcome will be reduced greenhouse gases, resource depletion, and chemical pollution – participants are invited to a breakfast event to engage in the project further (see below).
Participants were then taken downtown (some via complementary Radboudumc bicycles!) to the beautiful St. Stevenskerk for a Drinks Reception hosted by the Mayor’s office to officially welcome us to the European Green Capital 2018 – Nijmegen.
All conference photos can be found here and are free to use when accredited to HCWH Europe.