What we do

What we do

Developing a more sustainable healthcare system

The Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) help organisations across health and care embed and promote sustainable development in order to reduce emissions, save money and improve the health of people and communities.

At an environmental level this includes addressing issues such as energy, travel, waste, procurement, water, infrastructure adaptation and buildings.

More broadly our work expands into the wider long term needs of the health system including adaptation of health service delivery, health promotion, tackling the wider determinants of health, corporate social responsibility and developing new sustainable models of care.

How we do it

The SDU develops tools, policy and research which enable people and organisations to promote sustainable development and adapt to climate change.

We engage across the system to identify the frameworks, networks and mechanisms that will promote a healthier environment and better health, and enable communities and services to be resilient to adverse weather events and climate change.

We provide expert advice, support and practical help in meeting carbon reduction targets and also engaging with individuals and organisations to change attitudes and behaviours to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle.

Key areas of work

  1. Engage with the sector on the best ways of delivering sustainability across the health, public health and social care system to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy. 
  2. Develop monitoring and foot printing mechanisms across the sector to support the monitoring of progress including the implementation of carbon reduction targets including the 10% reduction target by 2015 and beyond. 
  3. Scope and map the sustainable development requirements for the Public Health system in England with input from Public Health England, Local government, Health and Wellbeing Boards, and social care organisations to ensure that Public Health England develops its communities based approach to sustainability. 
  4. Act as an expert point of reference for sustainable development across the health system and act as the formal reporting body for statutory processes such as Adaptation to Climate Change across the health sector.


SDU Business Plan provides more detail on our priorities in the coming year.