World Summit on Sustainable Development

WHO Preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development

WHO organized a series of meetings and events to prepare the health agenda at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). At the PrepComs, WHO was active in promoting a central role for health in the draft Plan of Implementation. Various documentation was prepared on the role of health and sustainable development including a review of key health trends over the past decade. WHO’s expertise was made available to Member States in the course of the preparatory sessions and deliberations during 2001 and 2002. In parallel to the formal PrepCom process, WHO organized a series of meetings and events to prepare the health agenda at WSSD. WHO also contributed a number of documents to the WSSD process (see Key Resources).

WEHAB Contributions

A major contribution from WHO to the overall WSSD preparations came in the form of a document entitled A Framework for Action on Health and the Environment [.pdf, 196KB], which was part of the WEHAB initiative of the UN. The WEHAB initiative was proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a contribution to the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). It seeks to provide focus and impetus to action in the five key thematic areas of Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity and ecosystem management that are integral to a coherent international approach to the implementation of sustainable development and that are among the issues contained in the Summit’s Draft Plan of Implementation.

Review and Planning Workshops

Health and Environment in Sustainable Development Planning: Strengthening the Role of Cross-sectoral Collaboration

World Health Organization and South Bank University, UK; 21-22 May 2001; London, England.

The objective of this meeting was to review cross-sectoral planning experiences in health and sustainable development at global, regional, national, and local levels. Specifically, the meeting aimed to:

  • Elaborate on mechanisms and approaches to cross-sectoral collaboration that have been employed;
  • Assess the involvement of key sectors outside of health;
  • Review the nature of multi-stakeholder collaboration;
  • Report on the use of planning tools such as indicators and health impact assessment methodologies.

Participants came from all regions and included practitioners, academics, researchers, and representatives of various international organizations. The meeting was conducted as a series of plenary sessions and small working groups to maximize the knowledge and information shared, as well as the opportunities for exchange and dialogue.

Making Health Central to Sustainable Development: Planning the Health Agenda for the World Summit on Sustainable Development

World Health Organization and Government of Norway; 29 Nov - 1 Dec 2001; Oslo, Norway.

The objective of the meeting was to help identify the key policy issues and action strategies for health in relation to sustainable development. The meeting brought together participants from all regions, representing a wide range of sectors in government, academia and research, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, as well as partners in the United Nations system. The meeting was organised around a series of panel discussions in plenary, as well as small working groups in thematic areas which included:

  • Poverty and vulnerability;
  • Globalisation, trade, and the global economy;
  • Environmental degradation, resource depletion, unhealthy lifestyles;
  • Intersectoral action for health and sustainable development.

Health and Sustainable Development: Meeting of Senior Officials and Ministers of Health

World Health Organization; Department of Health, South Africa; Southern African Development Community; 19-22 Jan 2002 Johannesburg, South Africa.

The meeting brought together ministers of health, senior officials, and other representatives from countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China, India, Indonesia, Norway, and the United States. During the meeting of senior officials, a background paper and a paper outlining ideas for inclusion in a declaration on health and sustainable development were considered. The deliberations were informed by the following presentations: "Poverty, Disease Burden and Development"; "Globalization, Trade, and Health"; "Environment and Health Implications of Urbanization, with Special Reference to Johannesburg"; and "Strengthening the Role of Health in Sustainable Development: from Rio to Johannesburg".

Inter-Governmental Prepcom Planning Process

Prepcom III. WHO Side Event "Health in Sustainable Development: Key Issues and Action Strategies."

World Health Organization and other institutions; 3 Apr 2002; New York, USA.

This event consisted of panel presentations touching on key issues in health and sustainable development. Panellists discussed topics such as poverty and equity, nutrition, consumption patterns, and the health threats and benefits of globalization. Panellists also reported on the outcomes of two meetings: the ministerial meeting on "Health and Sustainable Development" in Johannesburg in January 2002, and the Health and Environment Ministers of the Americas Meeting in Ottawa in March 2002.

Prepcom IV. Update on the Implementation Conference: Stakeholder Action for Our Common Future

Stakeholder Forum for Our Common Future; World Health Organization and other institutions; 27 May 2002; Bali, Indonesia.

During the update on the Implementation Conference-which took place 24-26 August 2002 in Johannesburg-the need for WSSD to address the links between health, environment and poverty alleviation was highlighted. Access to drugs and vaccines, measures to strengthen health systems, improved environmental management, and health education were listed as existing solutions. WHO's priorities in the area of health and environment, which include efforts to reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution, ensure food safety, and improve water resources management, sanitation and hygiene were discussed.