Home Search Why it's importantWhat is Sustainable Development? The goal of sustainable development is to meet the needs of today, without compromising the needs of tomorrow. This means we cannot continue using current levels of resources as this will not leave enough for future generations. Stabilising and reducing carbon emissions is key to living within environmental limits. The SDU believes that operating within the right economic, social AND environmental boundaries will create a truly sustainable health system, one that is fit for the future. Sustainable development is often partnered with good corporate citizenship. This means that organisations in the health system can use their corporate powers and resources in ways that benefit rather than damage the economic, social and physical environment in which we live. Why is Sustainable Development important for the health system? Healthcare staff are among the most trusted people in the country. The impact that climate change has on the health of the people we serve makes standing and saying we are part of the fight against climate change a key component of the day job. The health system in England is a huge employer with over 1.3 million people working in the NHS alone. Consequently the health system has a very large carbon footprint. It is a major buyer of goods and services from local, national and international economies and is often the biggest single employer in each of the English regions. It is always a significant component of the regional economy. Every person and organisation has an obligation to mitigate the effects of climate change, arguably the largest health threat that faces us this century. This means the health system has a duty to become a highly effective public sector exemplar in sustainable development and carbon reduction. To do this the health system needs to operate economically and ethically. It needs to be conscious of delivering safe and cost effective healthcare while recognising the negative impact it has on the environment. The SDU is supporting the system become a good corporate citizen by helping it find the right mix between financial, social and environmental sustainability. This will help save money, improve quality and build a healthcare service resilient for the future. The NHS is the largest public sector contributor to climate change in Europe. Each year it emits 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e.