MENU menu

UNDP is Walking the Talk Towards Greener Healthcare Procurement

October 10, 2016

By Rosemary Kumwenda - United Nations Development Programme

Public health is the core of medicine. It entails that we, as health care professionals, need to ensure public goods are delivered in a safe and sustainable way. Public procurement is a key entry point for promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns, and a major contributor to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That is why sustainable health procurement is a priority in the global health sector.

The public are exposed to serious environmental and health risks during the implementation of health programs. These risks range from improper health care waste management to exposure of health care professionals to persistent organic pollutants. They need to be addressed systematically at all levels.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as an important public procurer in the global health market, has a particular responsibility to follow the international conventions and principles. Therefore, for the first time, the organization monitors the compliance with international conventions of its own procurement through an innovative guidance tool: “Healthcare Procurement and Compliance with International Environmental Conventions on Chemicals”.

There are five global conventions that aim to protect human health and environment from hazardous substances:

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury
  • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
  • The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade

Developed with generous support from the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation, and in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm, the guidance tool presents a practical guide aimed at assisting the procurement practitioners to monitor compliance of healthcare procurement using the relevant international conventions for environmental safeguarding.

This is, without a doubt, a very important step towards greening of UNDP health care procurement practices and a major contribution to the maxim of medical ethics, primum non nocere (first do no harm).

Sarah Miers, Skoll Foundation

We are proud to have supported the UNDP and Skoll awardee Health Care Without Harm in their collaboration to encourage environmentally sustainable health care procurement practices within the UN system and are excited to help launch their sustainable procurement guide. Given the scale of the UN system’s healthcare purchasing (US$3.4B annually), this guide for procurement practitioners has significant potential to protect health care workers, patients, communities, and the environment. The UNDP and HCWH’s partnership is a great example of how collaboration with key systems actors can increase the reach of social entrepreneurs’ work.

Related Content

The Biggest Challenge to Ending AIDS by 2030 Isn’t What You Think
Kathrin Schmitz - mothers2mothers , July 10, 2018
End AIDS by 2030. This is one of the headline-grabbing targets laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Later this month, more than 15,000 people from the international HIV/AIDS community…
How to Get to SDG 6: Invisible Barriers to Urban Water and Sanitation
What do you think of when you think about improving water and sanitation? No doubt the first thing that springs to mind is a tap; probably followed close after by…
Rural Women and Girls Catalyzing Change in the Climate Crisis
Zachary Slobig - Skoll Foundation , June 7, 2018
With World Environment Day this week, we're thinking a lot about the intersection of climate change and injustice, a place where many of our Awardees work daily. Climate change deepens…