CHICAGO, May 9, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A new publication from the Black Directors Health Equity Agenda (BDHEA) and Deloitte, sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, offers guidance for board directors interested in mitigating health care’s contribution to emissions-driven climate change and climate health disparities.
Accelerating Health Equity and Business Sustainability through Decarbonization, available to the public, was developed in response to the essential role of the health sector in the climate crisis. American healthcare organizations produce 8.5% of US greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions, in turn, accelerate asthma, allergies, respiratory illnesses and heat-related deaths among black Americans.
Decarbonisation as a boardroom priority
Reducing an organization’s carbon footprint can mitigate the worst impacts of climate change while driving business value. The guide uses real-world examples to illustrate how organizations can adopt a decarbonization plan to realize reputational, financial, operational and supply chain benefits.
“Health Board Directors lead the organizations we serve to fulfill their mission to promote health and wellness,” said BDHEA Founding Member and Board Member Joe Wilkins. “Reducing the carbon footprint of healthcare is essential to protecting our patients and communities from the negative health impacts of our changing climate.”
The Action Guide educates board directors on the connection between climate impacts and health equity. The physical environment, including climate, is one of the key drivers of health that contribute to health outcomes. For example:
Extreme heat: Communities of color and historically redlined communities are often more vulnerable to extreme heat due to factors such as limited tree canopies.
Forest fires: Blacks and Hispanics, especially children, suffer disproportionately from respiratory illnesses such as asthma, which are made worse by the wildfires.
Terrible weather: Communities of color are more likely to experience displacement during and after hurricanes, which have been linked to long-term mental health problems such as PTSD.
“The impacts of climate change on human health are very real and happening right now,” said Deloitte Consulting LLP managing director and physician leader Dr. Elizabeth Baca. “We have a responsibility to transform the way we deliver care—by reducing cuts, supporting prevention, and anticipating climate-related health impacts—to limit the worst effects of climate change and, in turn, improve health equity.”
Climate Action Framework for Health Equity
The Decarbonisation Action Guide outlines the key competencies required by board directors to lead decarbonisation:
Strategic integration: Integrate climate considerations into strategic planning in a way that informs decision-making processes and drives enterprise transformation.
Materiality: Regularly assess the short- and long-term materiality of climate-related risks and opportunities to the organization.
Talent and Incentives: Ensure that the selection, evaluation and remuneration of the CEO and executive management are aligned with decarbonisation objectives.
Structure and Management: Determine the most effective way to integrate climate considerations into board structure, committees and processes.
Reporting and Disclosure: Ensure that significant climate-related risks, opportunities and strategic decisions are consistently and transparently disclosed to all stakeholders.
Cooperation: Maintain regular exchanges and dialogues with partners, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders to encourage sharing of methodologies and collective action.
“The Commonwealth Fund is dedicated to creating an equitable, high-quality healthcare system, and mitigating the healthcare industry’s contribution to climate change is an important part of that vision,” said Commonwealth Fund Vice President Lovisa Gustafsson. “We hope that health care leaders will join us in building a more equitable and sustainable health care system.”
Download Accelerating Health Equity and Business Sustainability through Decarbonization at bdhea.org/offerings. To learn more about BDHEA membership, visit member.bdhea.org. The Action Guide builds on BDHEA-Deloitte’s recent Environmental, Social Affairs and Governance publication, The Essential Role of Health Equity in ESG Conversations, offering a framework for board directors to influence organizations’ ESG strategies, on who serve.
The Black Directors Health Equity Program (BDHEA) is comprised of board directors and senior executives working to eliminate health disparities and inequities that threaten the individual and collective prosperity of Black families. As agents of change, its members across the healthcare ecosystem promote and facilitate board education for future leaders, promote reimagined business models, drive innovative thinking and action, and support policy reforms that promote health equity for Black Americans, which ultimately will ensure equal and fair health care for all. Learn more at bdhea.org.
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For the Commonwealth Fund
The Commonwealth Fund’s mission is to promote a high-performing, equitable health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, especially for society’s most vulnerable groups, including people of color, low-income people, and those who are uninsured. The Fund fulfills this mandate by supporting independent research on health issues and by awarding grants to improve health practice and policy.
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SOURCE Black Directors Health Equity Program