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Transform the Health sector by promoting Environmental and Social sustainability for the Health of People and the Planet

The impact of climate change is getting more pronounced with the frequent occurrences of deadly weather-related events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and strange diseases, among others. These have a significantly impacted the countries’ ability to provide quality health care to citizens. While the health sector has been one of the sectors worst impacted by climate change, evidence shows that health is one of the major net contributors to Green House Gas (GHG). A recent publication by HCWH shows that the Health care’s climate footprint is equivalent to 4.4% of global net emissions (2 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent). Pollution by the sector continues to occur through service delivery, extraction of natural resources for products that the health systems procure and consume, and the waste the sector generate. The production, packaging, transportation, use and disposal of these products has significant impact on the health of people and the environment.

To promote compliance with environmental and social standards, the Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector initiative (SPHS) is implemented by an Informal Interagency Task Team coordinated by UNDP through the SPHS secretariat, and has ten members—seven are UN Agencies (UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, WHO) and three are Multilateral Health Financing Institutions (GAVI, GFATM and UNITAID). Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) has been working on sustainable procurement in the health for over twenty years and has procurement as one of the ten goals of the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH).  The GGHH network has 1,300 members representing the interests of over 43,000 hospitals and health care facilities in 68 countries. 

With the financial support from the Swedish Government, UNDP and  Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) are implementing the Sustainable Health in Procurement Project (SHiPP) in 10 countries of Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Moldova, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia, but also scaled up through HCWH’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals networks in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Through this project, UNDP and HCWH identified public procurement as a key entry point for promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns (SDG12). The project aims to strengthen sustainability in the health sector to ultimately reduce harm to people and the environment caused by the manufacture, use and disposal of health care products. The health sector purchases a broad array of products including chemicals, electronics, plastics, medical devices, energy generation and waste treatment technologies, laboratory reagents, anesthetic gases, pharmaceuticals and food. By implementing sustainable procurement, the project will eventually contribute to reduction in toxicity, carbon emissions and promote resource conservation through the health sector’s purchasing power.



Latest and planned activities:


  • Development of the Sustainable Procurement Index for health (SPIH)
  • Development of policies and strategies on sustainability in project countries
  • Capacity building of both procurement officers and private sector players on sustainability dimensions
  • Promote the adoption and dissemination of sustainable procurement guidance in health systems
  • Develop carbon reduction guidelines, templates and a framework for a climate-smart product substitution
  • Develop and disseminate Model Tender Requests for sustainable health systems
  • Produce multimedia materials to develop capacity for sustainability in the health sector
  • Identification of alternatives; market research on available alternatives, support to health systems to implement alternatives
  • Conduct plastic/energy audits and develop actions to eliminate single use plastic and prioritize least toxic materials  
  • Chemicals of concern in health products 


Build back greener with bold new approaches in the global health sector - Explore the Digital Annual Report 2019 


Interest Group Members: 


  • Health Care Without Harm 
  • Ministry of Railway – India
  • MSD Tanzania


Coordinator contact: 


For more information about the Interest Group, how to join and engage in the framework of envisaged activities, please contact:












Rosemary Kumwenda (

Team Leader for Regional HIV, Health and Development Team in Europe and CIS 


Ian Milimo (

Project manager

Sustainable Health in Procurement Project



Susan Wilburn (

International Sustainability Director

Health Care Without Harm


Megha Rathi (

SHiPP Project coordinator 




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