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Healthy societies and healthy populations

Whilst people in many countries are living longer, they are not necessarily living healthier lives. Changes in societies have contributed to improved health but have also caused many challenges and risks to people’s health and well-being.  

The World Health Organization has set the goal of improving the health and well-being of one billion people around the globe by 2023. Yet, the pathways to achieve this goal, from the local to the global level, remain unclear.  

This series of dialogues, taking place over 2 years, provides space for different groups and individuals with common interests to come together and explore what is required to achieve healthy societies and to stimulate a community to take this work forward.   

Where next for the Healthy Societies agenda.

This final dialogue in the series marked the end of a 2.5-year process. The hybrid gathering at Wilton

Park, bought together senior decision makers and influencers from across the public and private sectors and civil society to considering how a dynamic agenda can be delivered that results in healthier societies and healthier populations.

Healthy societies, healthy populations

The series started with an in-person dialogue in February 2020, held in partnership with the Government of Sweden, Wellcome Trust and World Health Organization. 

The group explored the social, economic, and environmental determinants of healthy societies, the promotion of cross-sectoral approaches for better health and the prioritization of health in other sectoral policies and settings.  

This dialogue sought to inform the continued work of those seeking to achieve healthier societies and an agreement on the need for more analytical and policy work on how to achieve this.  

Urgent actions for healthy futures – learning from COVID-19

Shortly after the first dialogue COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. This new infectious disease swept across the globe in a matter of weeks, causing untold damage to societies and economies and setting back progress towards achieving all the sustainable development goals.   

In April 2021, the group reconvened virtually for the second dialogue, with new voices joining the conversation. The dialogue focused on the development of policy actions to ensure health is at the centre of building an equitable greener economic recovery post COVID-19.  

The pursuit of collective action

Multisectoral collective action sits as the heart of efforts to achieve healthy societies. However, achieving such action remains a challenge, with sector often working in silos. An emerging theme during the April 2021 dialogue was the need to define visions and narratives for healthy societies that unify different groups around their collective ambitions.  

In June 2021, a series of virtual regional workshops were held to identifying the key areas of convergence and divergence in healthy societies narratives and visions across geographies, sectors, and perspectives. The workshops were held across different regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Caribbean, and Europe and North America. Following the workshops, the groups reconvened to share the findings from the regional discussions and to agree the next steps in the development of healthy society narratives and visions.

Critical steps to achieve healthy societies

The most recent dialogue took place in November 2021, with a virtual discussion over two days. The group took stock of the series to date and to outline the next steps in developing a more organised programme of work and community to take this work forward. The discussion was framed around five workstream and provided opportunity to have cross cutting discussions.  

The dialogue also provided opportunity for participations to discuss and articulate their ideas for the series output, ahead of the final series dialogue in mid-2022.