Health Service Leaders and Climate Change – An imperative for Change Leadership



The World Health Organization (2021) is unequivocal in its position: “Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, and health professionals worldwide are already responding to the harms caused by this unfolding crisis”.

Moreover, they state, “Climate change is impacting human lives and health in a variety of ways. It threatens the essential ingredients of good health - clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter - and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.” (WHO 2021).  

Health organizations will not be immune to the changes caused by climate change. Indeed, health organizations and health service leaders will need to respond and adapt to the influence of climate change as they fulfil their mandates to provide health services and preserve and promote health. This will require health service leaders innovate and develop new approaches as the effects of climate change become more prominent.

Lemery at al (2020) state there are three primary roles facing health professionals: to protect the public from threats posed by climate change, second, ensure health care systems are resilient, and third, serve as advocates for intersectoral approaches to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Large scale disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, heat waves, pandemics have immediate and often predictable outcomes. As we have seen with SARS-Cov-19 the impact on populations, and indeed every sector of society, has been devastating. The trajectory of COVID-19 has continued to surprise infectious disease specialists and confound public health officials. Preparing for the effects of climate change should be a top priority for health systems.  

Health organizations will need to be more environmentally friendly in terms of resource usage and move towards a low carbon footprint.  At the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) a group of 50 countries committed to developing climate-resilient and low-carbon health systems in direct response to the growing evidence that climate change is having a detrimental impact on human health. Fourteen of the 50 countries have set a target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.   Health care systems will require innovation and new approaches to leadership to meet the climate challenge.  


List of topic areas

This Special Issue, "Health Service Leaders and Climate Change - An imperative for Change Leadership" seeks submissions consistent with the aims of Leadership in Health Service as stated on their website, with a particular emphasis on the impact of climate change on health services leadership. 

  • Explore how health systems need to respond to climate change;
  • Leadership preparation and education to prepare for a changing climate;
  • Examples of how health systems have responded to changes in demands for services due to climate change;
  • Case studies of health organizations that have responded to extreme weather events or natural disasters exacerbated by climate change;
  • To explore how climate change has influenced demands for health services, response to extreme weather events;
  • To showcase examples of how leadership and management educational programs have adapted their curricula to respond to climate change issues;
  • To document leadership training and development, mentoring and coaching programs related to responding to changing demands for health services or disaster mitigation in relation to climate change;
  • To present case studies that document actual experiences of health organizations; responding to increases in demand for health services or disasters brought on by climate change;
  • Changing epidemiology and utilization patterns from climate change;
  • Disaster planning and mitigation;
  • Preparing health services to respond to increasing numbers of challenges including, for example, heat waves, forest fires, poor air quality, infectious diseases, responding to larger numbers of climate refugees, extreme weather event, and the influence of climate change on mental health, among others;
  • New models of clinical and social care leadership;
  • Strategic management within healthcare organizations (including crisis management and mitigation).


Guest Editor

Victor Maddalena,

Memorial University, St. John’s NL, Canada, 

[email protected] 


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.


Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 18/05/2022
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31/10/2022

For additional information or queries about this special issue contact [email protected]