Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Forum 2022: The legal sector has a key role to play in global sustainability says United Nations


The United Nations has pledged to use its purchasing firepower to accelerate sustainability along the healthcare supply channel and called on the legal sector to support its efforts.

Lawyers are critical to establishing strong regulatory frameworks and providing contractual guidance that would allow greener and more equitable practices to flourish, said a senior UN executive.

Ian Milimo, project manager for the United Nations Development Programme’s regional hub for 128 nations, told the CMS Global Life Sciences & Healthcare Forum 2022, that the organisation would use its $6 billion of purchasing power to leverage improvements in healthcare.

He used his keynote address to highlight that, if the healthcare sector were a country it would be the fifth largest emitter of carbon, while also praising collaborations with legal experts that empowered countries, healthcare providers and suppliers to pursue carbon zero ambitions.

“We need to strengthen our contracts for goods that we procure for services. We don't have that expertise, you have that expertise, and this is an open call for you to join us in making sure that we are championing sustainable development,” he told the Forum of invited guests from legal, financial and healthcare sectors.

“We need lawyers to sensitise citizens on their rights and responsibilities with regards to climate. We need your support, we need your expertise, we need your technical ability to ensure that governments are supported to have a win-win situation in terms of sustainable development.”

Legal acumen will be needed to enhance access to technology, ensure privacy and security, establish regulatory frameworks and empower contract design across the healthcare supply chain. This expertise will underpin the United Nations Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector (SPS) programme which aims to encourage industry, manufacturers and suppliers to champion sustainability.

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals include healthcare where a complex landscape of law and regulations demands legal skills across areas such as Intellectual Property, risk management, AI technology disputes and economic and social responsibilities.

Lawyers are increasingly being called upon to develop policies, regulations and laws to protect the environment and public health, and have a positive impact helping emerging nations to develop sustainable practices.

“We need to make sure that we wake up to this crisis that we're facing and begin to address those things that are within our means and it's very good that we are speaking to lawyers because that partnership is very important,” added Mr Milimo.

“We need leadership from our politicians. We need leadership from our church and healthcare to religious institutions. We need leadership from business. We need leadership from lawyers, we need leadership from all angles for us to achieve what we are trying to achieve.

“A partnership with an institution like CMS can only help us to move forward and can only make us have sustainable development on our agenda and we will need your help to ensure that we are supporting countries come up with very strong laws.”

Dr Roland Wiring, a life sciences partner and Head of Intellectual Property at CMS Hamburg, commented: “Governance, social responsibility and environmental protection risk is of course at the core of the ESG issues that pharma companies and tech companies face. What the UN does in this context, is impressive, and can also inspire, from our point of view both our work and the work of the clients of the industry.”