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Climate, health and sustainability

Climate change poses a significant challenge to public health. In addition to the direct health impacts of a changing climate, it undermines the core foundations of good health and deepens existing health inequalities. As the nation’s largest funder of health and care research, we recognise the key role we must play in driving and promoting sustainable health and care systems.

We welcome the NHS's national ambition to become the ‘world’s first net zero health service’. We are committed to supporting the NHS in achieving this by funding world-class research and innovation. Our research can help deliver low carbon, sustainable and resilient health and care systems.

As well as UK-based research, we will fund research through our Global Health programme to improve the health outcomes of people in low and middle income countries affected by climate change.

Our climate, health and sustainability commitments

We have developed our first set of commitments around climate change, health and sustainability. These commitments highlight the first steps we are taking to ensure this work is embedding across NIHR.

We have 4 key areas of focus, reflecting the broad capability NIHR has across these domains:

  • Reducing the environmental impact of NIHR central operations
  • Funding research into climate, health and environmental sustainability
  • Ensuring knowledge mobilisation of research across these areas to maximise impact
  • Building capacity around environmental sustainability in the research community

4 boxes showing the different commitments of operational footprint, knowledge mobilisation, training and capacity and funding research

Read our full commitments to climate, health and sustainability.

Climate change is a complex global issue. We recognise the need to collaborate with global cross-sector networks and communities to share learning and best practices. Understanding that climate change exacerbates existing health inequalities, we aim to ensure that our efforts in this area also contribute to reducing global health disparities.

Contact the NIHR Sustainability Team at with any questions or for further information.

Sustainable delivery of research

Building on our pilot project, there is an opportunity for existing award holders to undertake carbon reduction and sustainability activities to complement their awards.

Get in touch to find out more.

Current funding opportunities

  • We welcome researcher-led applications in the field of climate and sustainability research across many NIHR funding programmes

NHS Health Research Authority environmental sustainability strategy

The NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) is an important partner in UK health and care research. Its environmental sustainability strategy: Making environmental sustainability the norm, outlines ways to meet the challenges of climate change.

The strategy sets out plans to become a carbon net zero organisation by 2050. It includes commitments to sustainable changes the HRA will make internally and explores ways to encourage changes externally.

It further commits to a three-year plan to work and consult with partners, including NIHR, on how we can reduce the impact of the wider research lifecycle on the planet.

Read the full strategy document.