World Summit on Sustainable Development

World Summit on Sustainable Development

Healthy life is an outcome of sustainable development, as well as a powerful and undervalued means of achieving it. We need to see health both as a precious asset in itself, and as a means of stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty. -Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland
Director-General Emeritus, WHO.

Principle One of the Rio Declaration states that "Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature". The World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa, August 26 - September 4, 2002) was an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the role of health in sustainable development.

Health is both a resource for, as well as an outcome of, sustainable development. The goals of sustainable development cannot be achieved when there is a high prevalence of debilitating illness and poverty, and the health of a population cannot be maintained without a responsive health system and a healthy environment. Environmental degradation, mismanagement of natural resources, and unhealthy consumption patterns and lifestyles impact health. Ill-health, in turn, hampers poverty alleviation and economic development.

Development policies and practices need to take into account current and future impacts on health and the environment. Strengthened partnerships and alliances are needed both inside and outside the health sector to address the emerging challenges. The World Health Organization, through its involvement in the WSSD process and follow up, is working to meet these needs, with the ultimate goal of making health more central to sustainable development.