The strategy provides an overarching framework to guide the College’s efforts to address, and seek coordinated and meaningful action on, the pressing threats to the planet and its communities, across six identified priorities of leadership, research, advocacy, partnerships, education and culture.
The release follows the College’s 2019 declaration of a climate emergency, and subsequent calls for urgent action on the climate crisis.
The strategy cements the College’s commitment to showing leadership in enacting climate action; developing an evidence base to capture the impact of climate change on patients, staff and functioning in emergency departments; and advocacy at all levels to address the impacts of climate change on emergency medicine and the capacity of health systems to manage demand.
It further commits to ongoing partnerships to ensure health systems and communities are prepared for climate emergencies; educating and preparing clinicians for the effects of climate change; and developing emergency department cultures that normalise sustainability.
Chair of ACEM’s Public Health and Disaster Committee Dr Lai Heng Foong said, “As recent bushfires, heatwaves and extreme weather events in Australia and internationally have highlighted, the immediate threats to the health of communities and healthcare systems are immense.”
“This has been further affirmed by the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which shows the situation is increasingly urgent. It is pressing on all of us to act, and advocate for action. This strategy is an important affirmation of the College’s commitment to taking a leading role on these issues.”
ACEM President Dr John Bonning said, “Emergency clinicians know an emergency when we see one, and we have important and leading roles to play in educating and advocating on the need for urgent climate action, to mitigate the severe impacts on community health and healthcare systems.
“This is also a health equity issue and we are reminded of our obligations to indigenous communities who are disproportionally affected by the impact of climate change. We must act also in the interests of lower and middle incomes countries, particularly in the Pacific region, that are at the frontline of this climate crisis, and acutely feeling its terrible impacts.
“The release of ACEM’s Environmental Strategy is a welcome and necessary next step affirming our commitment to climate action, as we also acknowledge that much more must be done, and done now, at local, national and global levels.”
ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards. www.acem.org.au