The IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing originates from the 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua, in 2019, co-hosted by the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake I Te Hauora o Aotearoa, and the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE). Its theme was “WAIORA: Promoting Planetary Health and Sustainable Development for All.”

Waiora refers to an Indigenous perspective of our host country, Aotearoa New Zealand, on health and sustainable development. Waiora means water in its purest, life-giving form. Waiora is linked more specifically to the natural world and includes a spiritual element that connects human wellness with cosmic, terrestrial and water environments. It is a call to share knowledge from our diverse cultural systems for the wellbeing of the planet and humanity. Sustainable development for all is the means by which to ensure health justice globally and for future generations.

The aim of the conference was to provide an unparalleled opportunity to link and demonstrate the contribution of health promotion to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to acknowledge the way SDGs contribute to improvements in health and wellbeing, and to enhance the planetary health consciousness in health promotion.

Promoting planetary health constitutes a major current challenge for health promoters globally. There is increasing evidence that the current economic and social development paradigm of infinite growth and endless exploitation of limited natural resources, is unfair and unsustainable, leading to inequities within and among countries and across generations. Planetary health expands the scope of public health and health promotion and includes ecological and social determinants of health as goals for public health action.

The conference was part of a strategic process, a vehicle for the health promotion community to share how to address the major challenges of planetary health and sustainable development from a health promotion perspective.

Enhanced with an eco-social approach of planetary health and human wellbeing, health promotion can be transformative and more effective in contributing to a societal transformation, values shift and cultural evolution, if the world community is to avoid the converging environmental, economic, political, social, cultural and technological crises.

The IUHPE Global Working Group on Waiora Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing understands planetary health as defined by the Lancet Commission on Planetary Health (2015), and the two Legacy Statements of the 23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion. It adopts these two frameworks because they are comprehensive and inclusive of science, ethics, spirituality, and indigenous knowledge. Meanwhile, the GWG acknowledges other planetary-related conceptual frameworks such as One Health and Ecohealth, and seeks to collaborate with groups who use those frameworks to address the health and wellbeing of the environment and humanity.