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Leaders give assessment on sustainability in health care and the public sector

Is a climate-neutral health sector realistic and if so, by when? To what extent is sustainability already anchored in management and strategies? And how is the public sector positioned in terms of sustainability? To find out, we surveyed managers in both sectors. 

We have summarised the results in the report "Where are hospitals on the way to more sustainability?", which you can download here

The companies of the executives surveyed were divided into three sectors, whose shares in the survey are as follows:

  • Hospital sector: 52 percent
  • Health sector (health insurance and other health care facilities): 20 percent
  • Public sector (utilities, water and wastewater utilities, transport, public administration): 28 per cent

Due to the total participation of 72 percent, the focus of this report is on the health care industry and in particular on the hospital sector.

Climate neutral by 2030: not very realistic

The majority of hospital executives (69 percent) see the goal of a climate-neutral health sector by 2030 as not very realistic for their hospital. 15 percent of the respondents even assume that their company will never achieve climate neutrality.

Yet there is definitely an awareness of the relevance of sustainability: 63 percent of hospital executives see sustainability as significant for the future of their hospital. 48 percent assume that hospitals that implement sustainability concepts and measures have a competitive advantage as a result.

Sustainability is currently not a high priority in strategic decisions

However, 37 per cent of the managers surveyed said that they still do not understand what sustainability means for their company and that the topic is not yet really tangible for them.

As a result, many hospitals currently lack a sustainability strategy. Only 30 percent of the respondents confirmed that their company already has a clearly defined sustainability strategy, and only 33 percent have so far given sustainability issues a high priority in strategic corporate decisions. 

The biggest challenges on the way to more sustainability are seen by 89 per cent of the respondents.  

  • 89 per cent see the challenge in the area of human resources with the aspects of equal opportunities and pay equity, 
  • 78 per cent see climate change and the need to reduce CO2 emissions, and 
  • and 74 per cent the issues of pollution, waste and recyclable materials.

There is broad agreement on the expected financial investments that go hand in hand with the implementation of sustainability measures: 71 percent of the respondents are sure that sustainability is or will be associated with a high investment requirement.

Not yet well informed about funding and EU taxonomy

There is a need for information on two topics related to the implementation of sustainability aspects: Funding and the EU taxonomy. Only 18 percent of respondents describe themselves as well informed when it comes to funding and financing opportunities for sustainability measures, and only 25 percent have already informed themselves about the requirements of the EU taxonomy. The situation is somewhat better when it comes to sustainability reporting: 52 percent of the respondents are aware that the reporting obligations according to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) affect their company.

All other results, for example on certification, sustainability officers and structures for data collection can be found in our report, which you can download here.

Our experts from the healthcare sector have also compiled guiding questions and initial recommendations for action for you.

View abroad

At the end of the publication, we take a look at the UK healthcare system, which is working on its climate neutrality with the "Greener NHS Programme" and is thus playing a pioneering role in Europe. Our healthcare colleagues from the UK explain what is behind the programme and how the ambitious goal is to be achieved.