The British Society of Gerontology (BSG) and ILC-UK are delighted to launch this first 'think-piece' for ILC-UK by BSG member, Simon Evans, from the University of the West of England.

This think piece argues that public sector responses to climate change must address adaptation and mitigation. Increasing environmental, financial and social pressures make this the ideal time to mainstream innovative ways of providing public services.

Recent Government policy for the public sector has included a strong focus on addressing climate change and promoting sustainability in the commissioning and delivery of services. Yet whilst a range of strategies and tools have been developed to address these issues for health services but that the sustainability agenda is far less developed in the social care sector.

This think piece promotes a recent research project which highlighted several examples of good practice in developing sustainable systems of social care. These included incorporating sustainable outcomes in commissioning decisions, reducing the travel miles incurred through delivering care, implementing telecare solutions as a core part of care packages and appointing green champions within each service.

But Simon Evans argues that while many of these examples go some way towards achieving environmental and economic sustainability, dramatic cuts in public spending mean that we also need a fundamental rethink about how services are provided.

He argues that new ways of providing public services based on principles such as co-production, mutualism, timebanking and localism have the potential to offer services that are sustainable - environmentally, socially and economically.

However, in order to make these changes on a sufficient scale to fill the emerging gap in public services, the right conditions need to be put in place urgently. These conditions include long term thinking, resources, imagination and leadership.

Simon Evans concludes by noting that more research is urgently needed in the area of both policy and practice for sustainable public services.

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