Ministers identify environmentally sustainable health systems as a response to climate change

15th June 2017

For immediate release

Ostrava, Czech Republic

Today, at the closing of the 6th Ministerial Conference for Environment and Health, 53 health and environment ministers from across Europe have notably included for the first time the action “building the environmental sustainability of health systems” in their declaration as part of their strategic response to climate change.

This “greening the health sector” approach has long been advocated by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe - it is an important step in recognising the contributions the health sector can bring in the fight against climate change.

In Annex 1 Compendium of possible actions to advance the implementation of the Ostrava declaration, the last listed action is: 

“Building the environmental sustainability of health systems and reducing their environmental impact”.

Recognising how the health sector’s large energy consumption, waste disposal practices, and procurement methods contribute to environmental degradation (including GHG emissions and climate change), were the founding motivations of Health Care Without Harm. In line with the Hippocratic oath, health professionals have a moral responsibility to reduce the environmental impacts of their work, which as a consequence negatively impacts on the populations they are trying to heal.

HCWH Europe applauds member states and WHO European Region for including this vital action in this declaration and look forward to swift and effective implementation of these actions. HCWH Europe now calls on health professionals and experts to work collaboratively and reduce the health sector’s environmental impact through improved procurement choices, reduced energy consumption, safer materials, and reduced waste.

“Through its network of hospitals, local councils, and regions, HCWH Europe will offer examples of best practice and experiences. Greening the health sector has been proven to save money that can be better used for preventing ill-health, instead of just treating it."

 – Anja Leetz, Executive Director - HCWH Europe

Press contact: Lloyd Evans, Communications Officer – HCWH Europe


About Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe

HCWH Europe is a non-profit European coalition of hospitals, healthcare systems, healthcare professionals, local authorities, research/academic institutions and environmental and health organisations. It currently has 75 members in 26 countries from the WHO European region, including 17 EU member states. HCWH Europe works to transform the healthcare sector worldwide so that it becomes more ecologically sustainable and a leading advocate for environmental health and justice across the globe. We bring the voice of healthcare professionals to the European policy debate about key issues such as chemicals, climate change and health, green building, sustainable procurement, pharmaceuticals, sustainable food and waste management.