Exploring the Nexus of Climate Change, Human Health, and Healthcare System Sustainability

On December 2 2021, PCHSS researchers were joined by a panel of global experts for an online workshop on the intersection of climate change and human health. The session involved discussions around the unique challenges that are presented by climate change and how they impact human health. The presenters then explored solutions to improve human health and create more resilient healthcare systems. Following the presentations, there was a panel discussion moderated by ABC national medical reporter Sophie Scott.

Watch the entire workshop here.

The effect of climate change on human health and healthcare system sustainability

This session unpacked how climate change is affecting human health and in turn driving up demand for healthcare services. Speakers discussed ways in which our healthcare systems can and should adapt to the challenges presented by a changing climate.

Click here to watch an introduction to the session and acknowledgement of country.


  • Professor Lesley Hughes (Macquarie University) – Climate change: how worried should we be? Watch Professor Hughes’ presentation here.
  • Hisham El-Ansary (Bupa) – One Health: Perspectives on the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health. Watch Mr El-Ansary’s presentation here.
  • Laureate Professor Peter Doherty (Doherty Institute) – Infectious disease, human health, and climate change. Watch Laureate Professor Doherty’s presentation here.
  • Claire Sparke (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) – Climate change, bush fires, and healthcare services use. Watch Ms Sparke’s presentation here.
  • Professor Ngiare Brown (Ngaoara) – Social Equity and climate change.
  • Professor Lucie Rychetnik (University of Sydney and co-lead of The Australian Prevention Centre Partnership) – The co-benefits of chronic disease prevention in the time of climate change. Watch Professor Rychetnik’s presentation here.
  • Professor Tony Capon (Monash Sustainable Development Institute) – Preparing healthcare services for climate change in Australia. Watch Professor Capon’s presentation here.

Click here to view the panel discussion moderated by Sophie Scott.

The impact of healthcare delivery on environmental sustainability

This session focused on the impact of healthcare services on environmental sustainability, including the problem of low-value care. The speakers discussed how the healthcare system can reduce its carbon footprint and improve sustainability.

Speakers/ topics:

  • Dr Nick Watts (Institute for Global Health, University College London) – Understanding the environmental impact of healthcare. Watch Dr Watts’ presentation here.
  • Professor Rachelle Buchbinder (Monash University and Cabrini Health) – What is overtreatment and why is it a problem? Watch Professor Buchbinder’s presentation here.
  • Professor Alexandra Barratt (University of Sydney) – Reducing healthcare’s carbon footprint by tackling overdiagnosis. Watch Professor Barratt’s presentation here.
  • Associate Professor Martin Hensher (Deakin University) – Human health and ecological economics. Watch Associate Professor Hensher’s presentation here.
  • Dr Forbes McGain (Western Health: Melbourne, Victoria) – Improving hospitals’ environmental sustainability. Watch Dr McGain’s presentation here.
  • Associate Professor Yvonne Zurynski (PCHSS, Macquarie University) -– Improving the sustainability of healthcare through integrated care models. Watch Associate Professor Zurynski’s presentation here.
  • Dr K-lynn Smith (PCHSS, Macquarie University) – Towards a learning health system. Watch Dr Smith’s presentation here.
  • Associate Professor Stefi Barna (Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, UK) – Practical solutions to improving patient care at a lower environmental and social cost. Watch Associate Professor Barna’s presentation here.

Click here to view the panel discussion moderated by Sophie Scott.

For media coverage of the event, please see Croakey News’ report, How can the health sector contribute to climate action? Some ways forward.

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