Health at the centre of Sustainable Development

Eurohealthnet explains how health, sustainability and equity are linked, and how integrated, innovative health promotion policy is essential to meet sustainable development goals.

This week, many health ministers, mayors and senior policy makers met at the 9th WHO Global Conference ‘Promoting Health in the Sustainable Development Goals: Health for all and all for health’ in Shanghai to discuss how health is central to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It provided guidance on how health promotion and the development of healthy populations, communities and environments can be integrated into national and international responses to the international goals. Conclusions are presented in the ‘Shanghai Declaration’.

This Declaration follows on the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, which was established 30 years ago, with conferences meeting every five years since then to consider past results and future challenges for global health. This edition focusses on sustainability, and ensuring no-one is left behind. Caroline Costongs, EuroHealthNet Managing Director who had the honour of delivering a key note speech at the plenary today, emphasised the need for collaborative inter-sectoral actions:

“There is a clear link between health, sustainability, and equity. Our lifestyles impact our health and well-being, as well as the environment. Economic development is accelerating human impact on the planet with the negative consequences falling disproportionately on low socio-economic groups and on those living in poor conditions and deprived neighbourhoods. Promoting good health across all sectors of society creates healthy lifestyles, populations, communities and environments, enabling sustainable growth and development for all”

Discussing how responses should be developed, and reflecting on the recent publication of the European Commission's Communication entitled "Next steps for a sustainable European future - European action for sustainability”, she continued:

“The European response to the SDGs should demonstrate a clear willingness for change and outline concrete steps for implementation. Ensuring health equity and addressing the causes of poor health must be a core component of that. EuroHealthNet has developed the REJUVENATE framework, explaining ten essential actions for the coming decade to improve health and help implementing the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.”

New and innovative models, which consider the interaction between health, environment, and equity are needed to enable healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Work, led by EuroHealthNet, is already underway in this area thanks to the four- year, EC-Funded Horizon 2020 ‘INHERIT’ project (inherit.eu) which looks at health equity, and how it relates to sustainable consuming, moving and living.

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