The 4th Saving Lives Sustainably: Sustainable Production in the Health Sector Global Forum 2021 Report has been launched. The Report provides good practice examples and suggestions on environmental and social sustainability in the production, supply, and procurement of health commodities, delivery of health care services, and management of associated waste in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Report serves as guidance on how to further strengthen sustainability in the global health supply chains and insights into best practices, case studies, standards, and tools.

The Global Forum 2021 was held on 17–18 November 2021, under the theme, “Strengthening Sustainability in the Health Sector Supply Chains in the midst of COVID-19.” The two-day event, hosted by Colombia, was co-organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)Fundación Valle del LiliHealth Care Without Harm, and Secretariat of the UN informal Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPHS), with the support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

The Forum brought together suppliers and manufacturers, policymakers, regulators, technical experts, academia, and civil society organisations from across the global health care industry and highlighted intersections between climate change and global health, and the necessary transitions needed for a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health sector needs to act smartly to apply both social and environmental sustainability measures to create a sector that respects and upholds the Sustainable Development principles and goals,” said Dr. Mandeep Dhaliwal, UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Team Director. “The COVID-19 response has brought huge amounts of waste that are choking landfills and skies with toxic fumes. Procurement must target commodities that can be reused and later on recycled to reduce the amount of waste on landfills or other dumpsites including waste for incineration which may end up producing fumes that are equally dangerous to human health. Positive sustainability prototypes exist in the Philippines, Argentina, Tanzania, and other countries on this. We need to learn from and scale up such sustainable and smart innovations.”

During the course of two days, the Global Forum 2021 explored several interdisciplinary themes that included health equity, health sector decarbonisation, greening and sustaining waste management practices, chemicals of concern, social sustainability dimensions, business integrity and transparency for ethical health supply chains, and opportunities for women’s participation and leadership.

The Global Forum 2021 hosted the launch of the Sustainable Procurement Index for Health (SPIH), a novel environmental and social measurement platform designed to accelerate sustainable procurement in the health sector, developed by UNDP, Health Care Without Harm and Arup. The Forum also witnessed the launch of the Impact Stories that Inspire: Sustainable Health in Procurement Health Project (SHiPP), which amplifies the voices of extraordinary women and men passionate about introducing health sector practices that improve their working conditions, the lives of their communities and help protect the environment, through SHiPP.

The event concluded with a bold closing panel on Leadership Commitment to Sustainable Health Sector Supply Chain, where distinguished speakers raised the need for urgent policies and legal framework support transformation on the ground.

“This Forum has brought together committed policymakers, manufacturers, academia, and organisations to explore practices and partnerships to help the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic using sound sustainable manufacturing and procurement practices to reduce harm to people and the environment caused by the production and disposal of medical products and by the implementation of health programmes worldwide,” stated H.E. Helena Storm, Ambassador of Sweden to the Government of Colombia at the Closing Panel.

The global COVID-19 health crisis presents an opportunity to build more sustainable and inclusive economies and societies. There is a need for concerted efforts from all partners to ensure that sustainable environmental and social practices are identified and adopted throughout the entire health care sector’s value chain.

The Global Forum 2021 report is available here and all sessions are available on the SPHS YouTube channel.

For more information on the programme, organisers and partners of the event, visit https://savinglivesustainably.org/global-virtual-forum-2021. The official hashtag of the Global Forum 2021 on social media is: #GlobalForum21

For additional information, please contact Ian Milimo at ian.milimo@undp.org. For media inquiries, please contact Nevra Gomdeniz at nevra.gomdeniz@undp.org

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