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RACGP Environmental and Social Governance investment policy


Amanda Lyons


30/08/2018 11:26:52 AM

As evidence of the planet’s changing environment continues to make itself clear, the RACGP is seeking member feedback to develop and finalise its Environmental and Social Governance investment policy.

The RACGP Environmental and Social Governance investment policy outlines how the college plans to invest with consideration for ethical, environmental, corporate governance and social issues.
The RACGP Environmental and Social Governance investment policy outlines how the college plans to invest with consideration for ethical, environmental, corporate governance and social issues.

With the World Health Organization declaring climate change ‘the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century’, issues of environmental health have become more relevant than ever for general practice.
 
However, Dr Tim Senior, a GP with a special interest in environmental issues, understands that the magnitude of the issue can make it hard for many healthcare practitioners to relate it in the context of day-to-day health.
 
‘[The environment] is such a big topic and often it’s talked about in terms of global impacts, changes in weather patterns, Antarctic ice sheets and things like that,’ Dr Senior told newsGP.
 
‘GPs are very involved in local communities and see the effects on their individual patients, but that global perspective can often feel quite distant to us.’
 
But Dr Senior believes GPs’ role in the community is exactly what makes them – and the college – well placed to perceive the ground-level effects of environmental health.
 
‘General practice is where the rubber hits the road,’ he said. ‘You hear the talk of global impacts, but we’re dealing with the impacts on people in our own communities.’
 
Professional responsibility
The RACGP has a fiscal strategy to develop a diversified asset portfolio for the college’s long-term financial security.

As such, the RACGP Environmental and Social Governance investment policy will outline how the college intends to invest its funds in a way that demonstrates due consideration for ethical, environmental, corporate governance and social issues. 
 
‘As a high-profile, influential health organisation, the RACGP has a responsibility to demonstrate best standards and leadership in social and environmental sustainability,’ RACGP CEO Dr Zena Burgess told newsGP.
 
‘Anecdotal dialogue and formal feedback in recent years has increasingly demonstrated a desire among members, staff and other stakeholders to improve the RACGP’s sustainability practices.
 
‘The RACGP has made overt efforts in this respect, including establishment of the RACGP Environmental Impacts in General Practice Network. The college has also endeavoured to “go green” by transitioning member communications and official documentation, such as annual reports and meeting minutes, to digital formats wherever possible.’
 
Implementation of the policy will begin immediately; however, the RACGP is inviting member comment and feedback for further revision of this policy.
 
In 2015, RACGP members raised a specific convocation item relating to investment in fossil fuels:
 
That the RACGP divests from all fossil fuel industry investments, including investments in financial institutions responsible for lending funding to other organisations for the purpose of fossil fuel exploration and extraction.
 
The item was carried and, in response, the RACGP Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee developed an Environmental and Social Statement, considering:

  • climate change and related risks regarding fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gases
  • toxic releases and waste management
  • sustainability of natural resources (eg water)
  • emerging markets for the use of environmental services and environmentally-friendly products.
Practice matters
GPs themselves can also have an important effect on the impacts of climate change by altering operations within their own practices. Dr Senior offered some practical suggestions for practices to try and reduce their own environmental impacts.
 
‘Using energy and fuel more efficiently,’ he said. ‘For example, things like insulation can make a big difference, switching to renewable energy providers, using solar either for hot water or for electricity. And then also looking at the waste and recycling in our practices and how well we’re doing that.
 
‘If people are really keen, there are mechanisms to have audits of how their practice is doing in terms of emissions and recycling.’
 
Dr Senior believes taking the initial step towards reducing environmental impacts is the main hurdle to overcome.
 
‘One of the challenges is that it’s such a big problem, it’s difficult to know where to start,’ he said.
 
‘The effects in some other countries will be devastating, and that is one of the motivations of people who are really passionate about global health.
 
‘But the effects on our own community in Australia will also be really quite severe. There’s no one who’s left unaffected by this, which is why it should be everyone’s concern and everyone’s responsibility.’
 
RACGP members can provide feedback by via email at agm@racgp.org.au
 
Feedback received by COB Friday 14 September will be collated and reported at the 2018 annual general meeting at GP18 on the Gold Coast.



Environmental and Social Governance environmental health investment policy



Anne-Thea McGill   31/08/2018 6:37:14 AM

One of the most important environment issues in GP is teaching people how and where to get clean ( low chemical) heritage, mixed ecofarming type food for their own and the environmental health.
Large scale low nutrient quality grain monoculture in the what belt are neither good for the environment, stock or humans, for example.


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