Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health and Social Care System 2014 - 2020

The vision of sustainable health and care:

'A sustainable health and care system works within the available environmental and social resources protecting and improving health now and for future generations. This means working to reduce carbon emissions, minimising waste & pollution, making the best use of scarce resources, building resilience to a changing climate and nurturing community strengths and assets.'

The Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health, Public Health and Social Care System 2014-2020 (gateway No 01011) was launched in January 2014. It describes the vision for a sustainable health and care system by reducing carbon emissions, protecting natural resources, preparing communities for extreme weather events and promoting healthy lifestyles and environments. 

The challenge is how to continually improve health and wellbeing and deliver high quality care now and for future generations within available financial, social and environmental resources.

Understanding these challenges and developing plans to achieve improved health and wellbeing and continued delivery of high quality care is the essence of sustainable development.  It is important that plans factor in:

  • The environmental impact of the health and care system and the potential health co-benefits of minimising this impact
  • How the health and care system needs to adapt and react to climate change, including preparing and responding to extreme events
  • How the NHS, public health and social care system maximises every opportunity to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability.


The strategy outlines a vision and three goals based on the challenges outlined above to aim for by 2020. It describes the opportunities to reduce our environmental impacts, improve our natural environment, increase readiness for changing times and climates and strengthen social cohesion.

The main strategy is supported by eight modules.  Each module has its own section on this website under "Areas of focus" providing further detail including implementation guidance.

Sustainable Development Strategy launch

The Sustainable Development Strategy was launched at an event in London with the support of Sir David Nicholson (then Chief Executive of NHS England), Duncan Selbie (Chief Executive, Public Health England) and Michael Coughlin (Executive Director, Local Government Association). 

The main presentations are available to view online


Supporting modules

To support the delivery of the Sustainable Development Strategy a number of modules have been developed that focus on key areas. Every module explores a different angle to help strengthen action within locally determined priorities.

The modules describe a high level approach and are accompanied by implementation guidance notes to support delivery. 

The module documents can be downloaded at the bottom of the page but each module also has its own set of pages and supporting information in the Areas of Focus section of this website.