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What is sustainable development?

Sustainable Development at Devon Partnership NHS Trust infographic"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This is a widely used definition of sustainable development from The World Commission on Environment and Development’s (the Brundtland Commission) report Our Common Future.

Every NHS organisation is required to have a board approved Sustainable Development Management Plan (SDMP) which sets out its objectives for sustainable development and how it intends to meet those objectives. Devon Partnership NHS Trust was one of the first trusts to develop a SDMP. As one of the largest public organisations in the county, we are committed to sustainable development and reducing the harmful effects of our activities on the environment.

We believe that a sustainable health and care system is achieved by delivering high quality care and improved public health without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage. This means working to reduce carbon emissions, minimising waste and pollution, making the best use of scarce resources, building resilience to a changing climate and nurturing community strengths and assets.

There are a range of material and reputational benefits from a focus on sustainable development for our Trust, the people who use our services, our staff, visitors, community and contractors. A reduction carbon emissions will lead to a reduction in costs with savings being available from a focus on energy, waste, water and transport emissions. Any savings made will mean that funds intended for healthcare delivery are enhanced or retained.

National policy and strategy

National policy on sustainable development in the NHS is set out in Sustainable, Resilient, Healthy People and Places – A Sustainable Development Strategy for the NHS, Public Health and Social Care system (2014).

Reducing the carbon footprint of the NHS

An ambitious aspiration for the health and care system is to achieve a 34% reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from building energy use, travel and procurement of goods and services by 2020 in line with the requirements in the Climate Change Act (2008). As the largest public sector emitter of carbon emissions in the country, the health system has a duty to respond to meet these targets which are entrenched in law.

Governance and accountability

Our Trust has a Sustainable Development Steering Group which is responsible for co-ordinating the actions to support the implementation of the SDMP. Mary Moore, Non-Executive Director, is the Board champion for sustainable development and Ralph Hayward is our Sustainability Lead.