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Climate change is a threat to both public1 and digestive health.2–4 Ironically the delivery of healthcare contributes to global warming by generating waste and emissions. If the global healthcare sector was a country, it would be the fifth highest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet.5 Healthcare providers6 and the global gastroenterology (GI) community recognise the need to break this cycle. For example, several GI societies have started climate focused action groups or committees, and the British Society of Gastroenterology has produced a first-of-its-kind GI society sustainability blueprint.7 Although promising, these initiatives are recent, geographically piecemeal and possibly limited in their impact since they require buy-in and then implementation of measures to directly address the carbon footprint and waste-related challenges, in addition to the need for goal-directed efforts by healthcare systems and providers.8 The climate crisis requires global, comprehensive, coordinated and urgent action if the GI community is to respond effectively.
Professional societies could make an important contribution to meeting this challenge. The World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) is a non-governmental organisation with 117-member GI societies from 108 countries representing over 65 000 gastroenterologists worldwide. The WGO Climate Change Working Group conducted a survey of global GI society leadership to understand their views on climate change, their society’s status, perceived barriers to action, support that might be useful and plans regarding the climate crisis. In this commentary, we provide the results and implications of the survey.
Global surveys of physicians on the issue of climate change have had variably low response rates.9 10 This raises a concern whether the respondents, and responses, are representative. We surveyed the leadership, rather than the membership, of the 117 GI societies who are members of the WGO. Leaders are well positioned to provide insights into their society’s attitudes, are …
Contributors DL led on development of the survey, with methodological and content contributions from all of the other authors. DL led on the writing of the manuscript, with edits, amendments, and final approval from all of the other authors.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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