As a global framework and blueprint to assist countries in building prosperity and well-being for their citizens, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set specific targets to achieve at the national level. However, achieving these goals requires commitment and actions at all levels and sectors of society.

In line with this, the Sustainability Accelerator Tool (SAT) provides an assessment framework specifically designed for the healthcare sector, guiding healthcare organizations on the implementation of practices to achieve sustainable, low-carbon and resilient healthcare, and enabling them to track and report their progress in this regard.

Achieving sustainable, low-carbon and resilient healthcare in the context of this assessment framework enables hospitals to contribute to the achievement of six SDGs and several targets by focusing on two core aspects: reducing the environmental impact of the healthcare sector and improving population health outcomes. Each domain of the framework encourages hospitals to address aspects directly related to several targets of each SDG.

SAT domains and the SDGs

Environmental impact

By enhancing the quality of care while reducing the environmental footprint, hospitals will contribute to:

- reduce deaths and illnesses attributed to air pollution and contamination (SDG 3);
- increase water conservation and efficiency, thus addressing scarcity (SDG 5);
- increase the share of renewable energy and promote energy efficiency (SDG 7);
- reduce waste and food waste generation (SDG12); and
- promote sustainable procurement practices (SDG12).

By building resilience to the impacts of climate change and other adverse events, hospitals will contribute to:

- reduce deaths related to natural disasters (SDG 11);
- reduce damage to critical infrastructure and guarantee the provision of essential services (SDG 12); and
- strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards (SDG 13).

Health, equity, and wellbeing

By understanding and addressing the determinants of health and vulnerabilities of the communities we serve, and transforming operational and clinical practices towards low-carbon care and prevention, hospitals will contribute to:

- strengthen capacities for early warning, risk reduction and management of global health risks (SDG 3), particularly in relation to climate variability; and
- reducing deaths related to natural disasters by focusing on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations (SDG 11).

Leadership and governance

By developing committed leadership that is accountable to staff, patients, and communities, as well as creating a collaborative engagement to improve community health outcomes and wellbeing, hospitals will contribute to:

- promote sustainable procurement practices and improve the use of resources throughout supply chains (SDG 11);
- integrate sustainability as part of the sector’s reporting practices (SDG 11);
- increase human and institutional capacity in the healthcare sector on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning (SDG 13);
- raise the profile of the healthcare sector as a leader against climate change and engage with other stakeholders so that it is integrated as part of the national priorities and policies on climate change (SDG 13); and
- mobilize and share knowledge and expertise to support the achievement of the SDGs (SDG 17).

SDGs’ targets aligned with the SAT assessment framework

Each SDG sets specific targets to monitor progress towards sustainable development. By reducing their environmental impact, improving health equity by addressing the determinants of health, and strengthening leadership capacities to face climate change and improve health outcomes, hospitals can also contribute to sustainable development. Through the use of the SAT, hospitals get guidance and actionable steps that align with the following targets.

Good health and well-being

3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.

3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

Clean water and sanitation

6.4 By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Affordable and clean energy

7.2 By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

7.3 By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

Sustainable cities and communities

11.5 By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations.

Responsible consumption and production

12.2 By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.

12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

12.6 Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.

12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.

Climate action

13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.

13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

13.3 Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.

Partnerships for the goals

17.16 Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.

Written by:

Carmen Menéndez

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