Health promotion

Sundsvall Statement on Supportive Environments for Health

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

The Global Perspective

People form an integral part of the earth's ecosystem. Their health is fundamentally interlinked with the total environment. All available information indicates that it will not be possible to sustain the quality of life, for human beings and all living species, without drastic changes in attitudes and behaviour at all levels with regard to the management and preservation of the environment.

Concerted action to achieve a sustainable, supportive environment for health is the challenge of our times.

At the international level, large differences in per capita income lead to inequalities not only in access to health but also in the capacity of societies to improve their situation and sustain a decent quality of life for future generations. Migration from rural to urban areas drastically increases the number of people living in slums, with accompanying problems - including lack of clean water and sanitation.

Political decision-making and industrial development are too often based on short-term planning and economic gains which do not take into account the true costs to people's health and the environment. International debt is seriously draining the scarce resources of the poor countries. Military expenditure is increasing, and war, in addition to causing deaths and disability, is now introducing new forms of ecological vandalism.

Exploitation of the labour force, the exportation and dumping of hazardous substances, particularly in the weaker and poorer nations, and the wasteful consumption of world resources all demonstrate that the present approach to development is in crisis. There is an urgent need to advance towards new ethics and global agreement based on peaceful coexistence to allow for a more equitable distribution and utilization of the earth's limited resources.