The virtual NorCal Sustainable Healthcare Symposium on Climate and Pandemic Resilience was convened by medical students from Stanford's Climate and Health Group and UCSF, understanding that climate change and the pandemic are dual and overwhelming public health crises. The symposium sought to educate and empower health care professionals to enact sustainable healthcare practices at their institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the vulnerabilities of health care systems in the US to adapt and mobilize resources needed to provide timely, appropriate, and equitable care. Climate change adds stressors such as wildfires, super storms, and heat waves that further test our capacity. It is critical that we build resilient health care systems, able to respond effectively in times of crisis.
The symposium offered interdisciplinary sessions with health care workers, sustainability officers, and advocates for sustainable solutions. 400 people from California, the county, and the world joined to hear Dr. Cheryl Holder speak on climate change, racism, and covid-19, to hear healthcare leaders at Stanford and UCSF discuss the path forward in transitioning off fossil fuels, and to hear Gina McCarthy, the former head of the EPA, discuss climate change as an urgent public health crisis. The symposium has jump-started a community of invested individuals and organizations to create resilient and equitable health care systems and Stanford's Climate and Health Group looks forward to carrying this initiative on as an annual event.