On October 26, 2023, Green+Leaders, Planetary Health leaders, and the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Team gathered at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront in Vancouver for the Green+ Leaders Recognition Event. The event was a vibrant testament to the commitment and passion for sustainability within four BC health authorities: Fraser Health, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Providence Health Care (Providence), and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). Throughout the day attendees celebrated the remarkable strides in sustainability leadership and innovation.
We were thrilled to be able to gather in person this year, which holds abundant opportunities for networking and connecting with colleagues who are just as passionate about sustainability,” says Nina Akhtar, Green+Leaders Community Lead.
Over the course of the day, over 100 staff members and leaders from the four health authorities took part in a workshop, gave a presentation, or made new connections with like-minded colleagues.
The day was marked by a series of insightful sessions and interactive discussions. Green+Leaders were treated to two workshops: the first on leading self and others through change successfully, and the other about circular economy and reducing waste in health care.
After lunch, featuring a “green” plant-based menu, leaders from each of the four health authorities shared stories and celebrated the many and unique contributions from staff to improve sustainability and climate resilience in health care.
The success stories shared by Green+Leaders — including Elaine Chu from Fraser Health, De-Ann Chan from VCH, Corinne Thompson from PHSA, and Aggie Black from PHC — were particularly inspiring. Elaine’s initiatives in food-related sustainability at Royal Columbian Hospital highlighted the significant impacts that can be achieved even by small-scale projects. De-Ann’s creative upcycling of supplies and resources in health care demonstrated innovative ways to reduce waste. Corinne’s efforts to create a safe space for bike storage at BC Cancer Kelowna inspired many to consider cycling as a sustainable commuting option. Aggie’s role in co-facilitating PHC’s Environmental Stewardship Team and her involvement in creating the Planetary Health Awards for clinicians showcased the importance of recognition and support in driving sustainable practices.
As part of the lively afternoon session, Planetary Health leads from each of the health authorities reaffirmed their commitments to environmental sustainability. As well, Nina highlighted the Green+Leaders program’s 2022 and 2023 achievements. From hands-on workshops to community garden creations and inspiring staff-driven projects, the program’s impact was clear. The afternoon concluded with journalist and Indigenous Relations consultant Charla Huber, who delivered a keynote blending humour and personal storytelling, with insightful lessons about relationship building.
The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive, with attendees leaving inspired and excited. One Green+Leader shared:
It was fabulous to see staff, medical staff and leaders from across VCH, PHC, PHSA and FHA all come together with a focus on Planetary Health and recognize the importance of the grassroots movement it will take to make sure health care is as resilient and sustainable as possible. We have come a long way since the first time I was involved with the Green+Leaders in 2010 and you should be so proud of the incredible program you have developed, sustained and expanded over the years.”
Green+Leaders should take pride in the progress we’ve achieved, and this recognition event was a moment to savour it. And there’s still more to be done. It’s clear that the journey towards more sustainability in BC health care is ongoing and always-evolving. On that note, the event was the starting point for many meaningful collaborations and fresh ideas across health authorities.
In challenging times, we hope, the sense of community and shared purpose Green+Leaders experienced at the event is something they can come back to; that the memories of the day, the connections made, and the feelings shared, will fuel their pursuit and support for sustainable health care — until the next event!
Special Thanks: This event was made possible by the vision of Nina Akhtar and the firm support of many individuals and teams, in particular the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Team. Special thanks go to the health organization speakers, workshop facilitators Dr. Kavita Sarwal and Marianne Dawson, keynote speaker Charla Huber, and the Green+Leaders who enthusiastically shared their journeys; and to the behind-the-scenes efforts of many executive assistants, Darryl Quantz, Kate Jory, Megan Lau, Emily Cooper Photography, Ethos Design, and the Pinnacle Hotel events team were instrumental in the smooth execution of the event.