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Creating a healthier environment

The negative consequences of climate change are already affecting Boston residents and the surrounding region.

Low-income communities and communities of color in Boston are disproportionately impacted by climate change through increasing heat island exposure, rising sea levels, and storm water flooding. Children are uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. They have physiological differences from adults and are more likely than adults to live in poverty, which makes them more likely to incur impacts. They will also be the most exposed to climate change and more frequent natural disasters, as their lifespan is in front of them.

In 2022, Boston Children’s signed onto the White House/Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Sector Climate Pledge. The hospital made voluntary commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and work to increase resilience — our ability to plan for, manage, and recover from disruptions in order to keep operating — in the face of climate change. 

One commitment is to develop a climate resilience plan, which will identify, assess, and gather community feedback on the current and future needs of the communities most at risk of climate-related harm. Another is to undertake “carbon accounting” for our supply chain and use this data to build on the existing work of our purchasing team to reduce the greenhouse gas impact of our purchasing decisions, and therefore make our supply chain more environmentally sustainable. This evaluation of our supply chain will reach to every part of the organization.

To do this work, we have convened a cross-disciplinary steering committee of senior leaders and a set of workgroups populated with internal experts from across the organization who are committed to building a culture of sustainability and organized around several key focal areas:

  • facility decarbonization and resilience
  • enterprise transportation and supply chain
  • clinical practice and patient outcomes
  • community, policy, and employee engagement

As this work continues, Boston Children’s plans to engage with community organizations and other Boston hospitals to consider how best to learn from community members about needs related to sustainability and resilience, including potentially as a component of the 2025 triennial community health needs assessment (CHNA) process. Boston Children’s will also engage with state and local government and cross-sector stakeholders on climate change and resilience to ensure children have a voice in policymaking conversations.

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