What is sustainable development?


Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of today, without compromising the needs of tomorrow. This means we cannot use resources at current levels as this will not leave enough for future generations. 

Why is it important for health care?

The NHS in England is a large employer with over 1.3 million members of staff. It does a huge amount of work and as such is a major buyer of goods and services from local, national and international economies. It is often the biggest single employer in towns, cities and counties. 

Consequently the health system has a very large carbon footprint – in fact the largest public sector carbon footprint in Europe.  As such the health system has a duty to become an exemplar in sustainable development and carbon reduction.  Every person, team and organisation across the NHS and health sector has an obligation to play their part to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Operating within the right financial, social and environmental boundaries will create a truly sustainable health system that is fit for the future.

Further information

Read more about sustainability on the Sustainable Development Unit website

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