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Sustainability encompasses a range of environmental concerns including pollution and environmental degradation, preserving healthy water systems, agriculture and food systems, biodiversity preservation and climate change.

Healthy Climate Futures 2022 Poster

Click to download the poster

While many environmental issues are of concern, climate change is distinct because it is a major public health issue, and this empowers doctors to have a strong voice in this area. The World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledges climate change to be a major threat to public health in the 21st century, and there are already effects observable in the Australian and New Zealand health contexts.

Leaders across medicine and science have called for doctors to become climate activists as this threat becomes emergent. Interventions to mitigate climate change are predicted to result in many co-benefits to human health and equity, as well as address many other environmental concerns at the same time, so prioritising climate change is an appropriate environmental issue for doctors to address.

Climate change is an ever more urgent and growing concern, and the response will require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate temperature rises, while also adapting health systems for a modified climate.

RANZCO supports and advocates for healthcare reform that ensures sustainable and equitable practices are adopted and maintained in the healthcare system. Looking forward, RANZCO aims to support fellows in making changes to improve sustainability at a clinical practice level while maintaining quality and safety. This strategy includes recommendations against wasteful consumption and offers evidence for practice changes to reduce resource consumption and carbon emissions.

Read more on How Colleges Face a Sustainable Future, compiled by Henry Oakley, RANZCO Sustainability Committee Chair Dr Jesse Gale and A/Prof Caroline Shaw.

Last updated: July 27, 2022

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