Working towards sustainable healthcare and a healthier environment

  • Europe


Executive Director of HCWH Europe Will Clark reflects on the past year and looks forward to what's in store for 2020.


As we draw towards the end of 2019, it's been incredibly rewarding to look back and reflect on the great progress we’ve made over the course of this busy year. The last twelve months – my first full year with HCWH Europe – really have flown by and I'm both proud of what we have achieved this year and privileged to be part of this unique and growing organisation.

The early part of the year saw a number of key posts filled with a host of talented new starters joining the organisation. Meri joined the team as Research Assistant, supporting our Safer Chemicals and Safer Pharma programmes; the latter is now headed up by Jean-Yves who joined us earlier this year along with Victoria who leads on development and fundraising. In October we said goodbye to our Climate-smart Healthcare programme lead Viktor, however, we are pleased to welcome Scott to the team, who will take over this work in 2020. Various aspects of our work during 2019 was also supported by two educational interns – Zoie and Saffiatu, we wish them luck in their continuing studies.

Meri, Jean-Yves, Victoria, and Scott have helped strengthen a team already rich in ability, passion, and energy and they’ve joined us at a time of real opportunity for HCWH Europe. As the health impacts of issues like the global climate crisis become clearer, the role of the healthcare sector in driving positive environmental change has never been more important and the need for action becomes increasingly more urgent.

Across our five work programmes we are formulating a long-term vision for how the healthcare sector can respond to environmental challenges and protect public health, with objectives outlining the role HCWH Europe can play. This is reflected in our 2019 manifesto released for the European elections, which prioritises 15 policy initiatives for the next five years.

Alongside our continuing policy advocacy efforts, I am pleased that we are introducing a stronger practical focus to our work, collaborating with members to identify and develop innovative, practical solutions in delivering their own environmental programmes. We have successfully obtained funding for two exciting new projects with members in 2020: Low-carbon healthcare in the Mediterranean region - developing carbon reduction plans and tools and Towards plastic-free healthcare – analysing plastic waste in healthcare and identifying reduction strategies.

Working with our members this year we have delivered a series of successful webinars and events, including our first annual European Healthcare Climate Summit, and multi-stakeholder workshops focusing on circular food systems in healthcare, pharmaceuticals in the environment, and EDC-free healthcare. Our member base has grown, with 17 new members from 11 different countries, including Greece, Portugal, and Finland – previously unrepresented.

Whilst we have been busy this year, looking at our fully costed work programme, 2020 is set to be even busier! This is ultimately a mark of HCWH Europe’s potential to shape European policy for the benefit of both the environment and human health, and to support the healthcare sector in Europe become a leading voice and committed practitioner of sustainability.

I’m looking forward to working with you all to achieve our goals in 2020!

Will Clark,
Executive Director