Yesterday saw the launch in Israel of the first Social and Environmental Reponsibility Report (in Hebrew only) of a not-for-profit healthcare organization, the second largest in Israel, Maccabi Health Services.
(Disclosure: my company, Beyond Business, supported the process and writing of this report)
The report conforms with GRI Application level B, and is the first time ever an organization of this kind in Israel has adopted a comprehensive approach to social and environmental responsibility and has reported in a transparent way, publishing probably the most revealing document ever for this organization, or indeed, any other of the healthcare organisations in this country. Maccabi defines four key areas of responsibility: public health, workplace, community and environment and the report includes summaries of stakeholder panels and feedback provided to Maccabi which assisted in determining the report content. This represents local best practice. The report also defines future targets including a commitment by Maccabi to report every two years. Regretfully, at this stage, the report has not been published in English but at least the 1.9 million heath-insured members of Maccabi, the 6,413 employees and the many other local stakeholders will be able to read the report in the local language.
IPRA (International Public Relations Association) environmental award for its unwanted drug collection campaign , an innovative programme designed to remove an critical element of hazardous waster from our water sources and also drive environmental awareness and responsibility amongst the Israeli public. Over 1600 litres of unwanted drugs on average per month were deposited in special bins for safe disposal provided by Maccabi in the first 2 years (2009 and 2010) of the campaign, which continues to operate throughout the country. This is a significant amount of hazardous waste which would otherwise been thrown in family garbage bins or flushed down the toilets, with potentially harmful consequences.
Aside from the focus on the report, a fascinating speaker at the conference was Johnathan Patz, professor and director, global environmental health at Wisconsin University. Johnathan ran us through an aspect of climate change which doesn't get addressed all that frequently in talks and writings about the global climate change crisis. Extreme variations in climate and weather bring about a range of adverse health related consequences - a brief summary of some of these can be found in this section of the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Johnathan quoted a study from way back in 1996 when peak traffic was reduced so as to "clean" the air for athletes arriving for the Altlanta Olympics. At the same time, child asthma-related visits to the emergency room reduced by 42% (whereas non-asthma related visits remained the same), proving the significant immediate tangible effects of car emission pollution on health. Johnathan also talked about the global warming impact on the spread of disease by mosquitos. As mosquitos (as all insects) are cold-blooded, their bodies take on the temperature around them. Higher temperatures advance the development of parasites that the mosquito may be carrying and therefore spead disease more rapidly. Zimbabwe, which is at high altitude and therefore cooler, has very low malaria rates as a result of this. If Zimbabwe were to get warmer, and it will, then the mosquitos will have a field day there too. He also mentioned "environmental refugees" as another outcome of overall global warming and climate change consequences. Johnathan's solution - amongst other things - move to low-emission trsnaportation - feet, bikes, public transport etc- to reduce one million deaths per year from urban air pollution and nearly 2 million deaths per year from leading an unhealthy lifestyle resulting from, amongst other things, reliance on motor vehicles. Looping back to Maccabi Health Services, it is clear that there are also strong environmental imperatives to promote a healthy lifestyle healthcare providers should also make this connection as part of their sustainability strategy.
Overall, a good day for CSR. The leadership shown by Maccabi is to be admired and emulated. Johnathan Patz is to be commended for clearly articulating how climate change affects our health and what we can do about it. And we should listen to both.
elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen on Twitter or via my business website www.b-yond.biz/en (BeyondBusiness, CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)