Health promotion

Sundsvall Statement on Supportive Environments for Health

Third International Conference on Health Promotion, Sundsvall, Sweden, 9-15 June 1991

It Can be Done: Strenghthening Social Action

A call for the creation of supportive environments is a practical proposal for public health action at the local level, with a focus on settings for health that allow for broad community involvement and control. Examples from all parts of the world were presented at the Conference in relation to education, food, housing, social support and care, work and transport. They clearly showed that supportive environments enable people to expand their capabilities and develop self-reliance. Further details of these practical proposals are available in the Conference report and handbook.

Using the examples presented, the Conference identified four key public health action strategies to promote the creation of supportive environments at community level.

  • Strengthening advocacy through community action, particularly through groups organized by women.
  • Enabling communities and individuals to take control over their health and environment through education and empowerment.
  • Building alliances for health and supportive environments in order to strengthen the cooperation between health and environmental campaigns and strategies.
  • Mediating between conflicting interests in society in order to ensure equitable access to supportive environments for health. In summary, empowerment of people and community participation were seen as essential factors in a democratic health promotion approach and the driving force for self-reliance and development.

Participants in the Conference recognized, in particular, that education is a basic human right and a key element in bringing about the political, economic and social changes needed to make health a possibility for all. Education should be accessible throughout life and be built on the principle of equity, particularly with respect to culture, social class and gender.