Climate change and other environmental challenges (biodiversity loss, pollution, soil depletion, etc.) are critical threats to health. Climate change alone has been identified as “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.” 


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world has little more than 10 years – until 2030 – to make major modifications in how we live, work and play if we are to avoid the kind of catastrophic changes that will make the maintenance of complex human societies impossible.

The health system has a large role to play in this undertaking, because despite its mission to support health, its practices are actually part of the problem. With large physical facilities that operate 24-7, care arrangements that foster substantial travel by patients, caregivers and providers, and a profound reliance on carbon-intensive and polluting technologies and other products (drugs, devices, disposables, etc), health systems are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and broader environmental impacts, including through air pollution.

Read our snapshot on this topic here

Take a look at our new video on this Flagship Project:



We are in a cross provincial collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems in Ontario and an international collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in the UK.

Creating Sustainable Health Systems in a Climate Crisis


HPI's Sustainable Health System's Flagship Project Team is proud to announce CASCADES (Creating a Sustainable Canadian Health System in a Climate Crisis) - a national project aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to health care and create a low-carbon ‘green’ health system. To learn more about CASCADES, click here.

Flagship Project Co-Leads


Dr. Daniel Rainham

Faculty of Health

Community Lead:

Nathan Ayer

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Dr. Sean Christie, M.D.

Faculty of Medicine

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Nathan Ayer is a Senior Sustainability Advisor with EarthShift Global based in Halifax, NS where he provides consulting services and training in life cycle assessment (LCA) and sustainability assessment for a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, government, and academia. He has worked and studied in the field of environmental management for over 15 years, including roles in government, private industry, and as an academic researcher and instructor. He is an LCA Certified Practitioner (LCACP) under the American Centre for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) and in 2020 completed an Interdisciplinary PhD at Dalhousie University focusing on the assessment of wood biomass energy systems and green technology development.

Translating Knowledge Into Action


Greening Nova Scotia's healthcare system in a Covid-19 world. 


The Coast released a lengthy article on HPI's Sustainable Health System's Flagship Project, highlighting neurologist and co-lead Dr. Sean Christie. 


Read the full article here.

December 3, 2020

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In October 2020 , HPI teamed up with the Centre for Sustainable Health Systems at the University of Toronto and co-facilitated the first cross-provincial online Masterclass in Sustainable Health Systems. 20 health professionals attended to gain knowledge, develop skills and forge collaborations that will help them advocate for and participate in a shift to high quality, low carbon care. In April 2021, the second Masterclass hosted 25 new health professionals from across the country. 


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In September 2020, HPI led an Interprofessional Education Mini-Course at Dalhousie titled Healthcare in a Changing Climate: The Need for Sustainable Health Systems and Planetary Health. 23 medicine, health and dentistry trainees attended the course to learn how to incorporate sustainability into their future health professions. Part of the course included a Greening Healthcare Case Competition in collaboration with Pulse.