Sustainability is defined by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) as “an economic activity that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”.
A sustainable health care system is based on delivering high quality care and improved public health and wellbeing without exhausting natural resources or causing adverse ecological damage. Sustainability in a healthcare system can be defined as the "trade-off" between social, environmental and economic factors of working and living.
In the context of Cork University Hospital, three elements were identified as integral to creating a sustainable campus:
- Creation of a ‘Green’ Hospital campus
- Sustainable Health Care System
- Sustainable Health and Well Being programmes
CUH’s approach to environmental change management was based on the steps set out in An Taisce’s Green Campus Application. In 2010, CUH began the process of acquiring Green Flag accreditation (see fig.2). This process formed the basis of the SEECO programme at CUH which evolved into the present Change Management Programme. In 2014, CUH became the first healthcare facility in the world to achieve Green Flag accreditation under the environmental themes of energy, waste and water. CUH retained its Green Flag status in 2018 under the environmental themes of energy, waste, and water as well as the newly incorporated themes of transport and biodiversity.
The following images reflect on the adverse impacts which climate change is having
As a result of the endeavours of the SEECO programme, Cork University Hospital achieved membership of Healthcare Without Harm Europe and the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH). Members commit themselves to implement particular goals from the GGHH agenda by implementing more sustainable practices and monitoring progress over time. This facilitates networking opportunities, involvement in HCWH actions and projects, and the promotion of member initiatives at international level.
HCWH Europe (https://noharm-europe.org) is a non-profit European coalition of hospitals, healthcare systems, medical associations, healthcare professionals, local authorities, research and academic institutions and environmental and health organizations.
Click here for the HCWH information brochure
The Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (http://greenhospitals.net) is a worldwide movement to reduce the environmental footprint of healthcare facilities and to promote sustainability and public health. The agenda of GGHH is to provide support to hospitals and health systems globally to achieve greater sustainability in terms of specific interconnected goals; Leadership, Chemicals, Waste, Energy, Water, Transportation, Food, Pharmaceuticals, Building Management and Procurement.