Sustainable development policy and lobbying

In September 2019, the RCGP formally acknowledged the climate crisis and the catastrophic effect on human health of not acting decisively and urgently on climate change. The College accepted its duty to provide leadership and urgently escalate its action at local, regional, and national level to decarbonise and promote environmental sustainability.

The RCGP is a signatory to the São Paulo Declaration. We're a founding member of the UK Health Alliance for Climate Change (UKHACC), which works to raise awareness, empower people and influence change related to the links between health and climate change. You can read more about the work UKHACC do on their website.

The College is lobbying governments and decision-makers to deliver change in relation to climate change and sustainability. Estimates of general practice’s carbon footprint suggest that approximately 60% is associated with prescribing. In June 2022, RCGP Scotland published a joint statement with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties on reducing the environmental impact of prescribing. Read the joint statement on prescribing (PDF file, 244 KB).

The College is proud to have supported and contributed to the following recent advocacy actions:

Find out more about RCGP’s strategic priority to respond to the climate emergency.

Climate change and sustainability at the RCGP

Other groups and organisations

  • UK Health Alliance for Climate Change (UKHACC), of which the RCGP is a founding member. It brings together almost a million doctors, nurses and other health professionals in 34 organisations to advocate for responses to climate change that protect and promote public health. The Alliance coordinates action, provides leadership and helps amplify the voices of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals across the UK.
  • Greener NHS is the successor to the Sustainable Development Unit. It is working to achieve the NHS target of becoming a net zero carbon health service by 2040. See Delivering a Net Zero Health Service.
  • Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is a charity based in Oxford working on sustainable healthcare in research and practice. It provides strategic input and consultancy to national and local programmes. There is a network for Primary Care with lots of resources and a forum for discussion.
  • World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA) Working Party on the Environment promotes family doctors' roles in protecting health from environmental hazards and degradation, and building sustainable communities. New members are welcome to join.
  • Planetary Health Alliance is a consortium of over 300 dedicated universities, NGOs, government entities, research institutes, and other global partners committed to advancing planetary health
  • Health Declares is a group of health professionals across the UK who are committed to acting and advocating to protect planetary and human health.
  • Health Care Without Harm is a network of hospitals, healthcare leaders, and healthcare professionals across Europe with the shared goal of creating a sustainable healthcare sector.

Other resources