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Planetary health
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Our commitment to planetary health and sustainability


Planetary health is defined as the “highest attainable standard of health, wellbeing and equity through judicious attention to the human systems – political, economic, and social – that shape the future of humanity and the earth's natural systems" (The Lancet, 2015).
As a health service with a large carbon footprint, NSLHD has a responsibility to reduce its emissions and be good stewards of our natural environment, whilst continuing to provide high-quality healthcare. The good news is that in many cases, modern, low-carbon models of care also improve patient experience and health outcomes.
In order to advocate for the highest standards of health, wellbeing and equity for our patients, staff and the community, we have identified planetary health and sustainability as a key area of focus. In 2021, NSLHD set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2035.


We have committed to net zero by 2035


NSLHD has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2035, with most of the reduction – 70-80 per cent – to be achieved by 2030. The bold target has been set to engage and inspire staff across the District and establish NSLHD as a leader in the field of environmentally sustainable healthcare. The target is based on Australian modelling and scientific evidence that rapid decarbonisation is needed to avoid climate breakdown. NSLHD will focus on ensuring that environmental sustainability is considered in everything we do.


Our governance structure


The NSLHD Planetary Health Committee is chaired by the Chief Executive and includes NSLHD Board Members Professor Emerita Mary Chiarella, AM and Dr Donna Lynch. The committee provides oversight of the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework and supports achievements against our Net Zero Target.

Governance Structure

Paul Klarenaar  

Director, Population and Planetary Health​


NSLHD has recently established the position of Director Population and Planetary Health that reports to the Chief Executive, NSLHD. The key responsibilities of this role are to continue the implementation of the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework through the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee, support the management of climate risk across the District and oversee the timely delivery of NSW Government directives related to environmental sustainability. 
Each Hospital and Service across NSLHD has implemented a Planetary Health/Environmental Sustainability Committee. Reporting sub-committees of the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee include the Royal North Shore Planetary Health Committee, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital Sustainability Committee, Ryde Hospital Sustainable Future Committee, Mona Vale Hospital Sustainability Committee and Primary and Community Health Sustainability Network. NSLHD Mental Health Drug and Alcohol representatives are also included on every NSLHD Hospital and Service Committee.
The NSLHD Planetary Health Committee includes representatives from the Sydney North Health Network and Northern Beaches Hospital, as well as Northern Clinical School medical students and NSLHD consumers.
Paul Klarenaar is A/Director Population and Planetary Health and is also the People and Places Working Group Lead on the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee. 


Kate Charlesworth

Senior Medical Consultant, Planetary Health​


As NSLHD’s Senior Medical Consultant, Planetary Health, Dr Kate Charlesworth is responsible for driving the implementation of the NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-23. Kate engages with frontline clinicians and all levels of staff across NSLHD Hospitals and Services to drive innovative environmental sustainability initiatives within healthcare to align with NSLHD’s Planetary Health Agenda.
Watch Kate’s Royal North Shore Hospital Medical Ground Rounds presentation, Healthcare’s Carbon Addiction: It’s time to quit.

NSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-23


The ​PDF iconNSLHD Planetary Health Framework 2021-2023 sets out NSLHD’s commitment to continually improving and reducing our environmental footprint.  
To achieve this vision, five priority​ domains have been identified: sustainable organisation, waste management and resource recovery, capital works and procurement, people and places and models of care. These domains will underpin decisions made in relation to the implementation and endorsement of new planetary health related initiatives.
the priority domains shown in a pie graph image
​​Each priority domain is underpinned by the economic, social and governance systems that shape the actions affecting our natural systems and planetary health. Oversight of the framework is the responsibility of the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee and progress against the framework is reported annually to the NSLHD Board.
These priority domains align seamlessly with our vision; ‘leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing’.​​ 


PDF icon Click here to read the NSLHD Planetary Health Committee Terms of Reference ​

PDF icon Click here to read our 2021-23 NSLHD Planetary Health Framework

​What is NSLHD doing to be more sustainable?

Net Zero Working Group and Net Zero Leads Program 


NSLHD has formed a Net Zero Working Group comprised of passionate and engaged NSLHD clinicians and Northern Clinical School medical students. 

Supported by the NORTH Foundation, NSLHD is also establishing a ‘Net Zero Leads Program’ to support existing NSLHD staff to lead and coordinate net zero projects in their service or specialty. There will be up to five positions supported on a fractional basis across clinical areas including anaesthetics, respiratory, surgery, nursing and pharmacy. These senior positions lead and coordinate ‘Net Zero Teams’ that conduct action research projects to re-think and re-imagine their service or specialty with a net zero lens. The NSLHD Net Zero Leads Program will provide professional development opportunities for clinicians to support them to direct and coordinate these projects.

Recycling el​ectronics​

Across NSLHD, electronic equipment such as laptops, batteries, power cables and photocopiers are sustainably recycled. Over 12 months, 60,805 kilograms of electronic waste has been disposed of sustainably to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in landfill.


Foo​d composting​

Ryde Hospital uses a ‘food muncher’ to convert approximately 6.2 tonnes of food waste each year into compost to fertilise the Hospital’s gardens. The volume of waste going to landfill has decreased by 10.2 tonnes per year, reducing the amount of methane released into the atmosphere.


​Reducing power consumption 

Recently, NSLHD has replaced over 10,000 lights with energy efficient LED technology. This has reduced the energy consumption of the lights replaced by up to 80 per cent. This is estimated to save $325,700 and reduce carbon emissions by 2600 tonnes every year.


Anaesthetic gases 

Anaesthetic gases represent 5% of a hospital’s carbon footprint. One anaesthetic gas, desflurane, is environmentally damaging and also expensive. By shifting towards other clinically equivalent alternatives, our anaesthetists have reduced carbon emissions and saved nearly $100,000 in costs.


Reducing ina​​ppropriate blood tests ​

Royal North Shore Hospital ICU reduced inappropriate arterial bloods gas testing by over 70% with no change in patient outcomes. This resulted in an annual saving of 100L blood and $770,000.  ​


Water s​ustainable practices​

Across our hospitals and services, 220 toilets have been replaced with water saving duel flush toilets. Water reducing devices have been installed in over 700 basin taps and 17 energy efficient boilers have been installed.


Invest​​ing in solar energy​

The Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital solar panel installation is one of the largest hospital solar panel installations in Australia, saving over 900 tonnes of carbon emissions and producing over one million kilowatthours (kWh) of power per year. The total solar power output across the district is currently 1.265 megawatts-peak (MWp) and planning is underway to double this figure by 2024. ​

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NSLHD teams are also exploring a number of other projects, such as switching to lower carbon respiratory inhalers, reducing waste in our clinics, and increasing our use of telehealth to reduce the carbon footprint of travelling locally and to international conferences.​

There is also significant consultation underway to imbed planetary health initiatives in the planning for the Ryde Hospital Redevelopment as it contributes to NSLHD’s target of Net Zero by 2035. 

External Link​Click here for informatio​n on NSW Health’s sustainability initiatives​  

For further information please contact​. ​​