Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health

Ostrava, Czech Republic, 13–15 June 2017

The ministerial conferences of the European Environment and Health Process provide a unique intersectoral policy platform bringing together relevant sectors and partners to shape policies and actions on environment and health, support the implementation of effective evidence-based policies and advance actions on environment, health and well-being in the WHO European Region.

Defining Europe’s environment and health priorities in the 21st century

Almost one and a half million deaths per year in the WHO European Region are caused by environmental risks that could be avoided and/or eliminated. There is therefore urgent need to continue and strengthen efforts addressing the leading environmental determinants of ill health. These include:

  • air pollution;
  • inadequate water and sanitation services;
  • hazardous chemicals;
  • waste and contaminated sites; and
  • climate change.

Addressing old and new challenges

The budgetary constraints of Member States, socioeconomic and gender inequalities, extreme climate events, increases in noncommunicable diseases, ageing of the population and an unprecedented level of migration between and within countries in the Region exacerbate those challenges. The complex relationships between environmental, biological, demographic, economic, social and other factors call for improving the resilience of communities to the physical, natural and social pressures of the 21st century. Participants in the Sixth Ministerial Conference will discuss new responses to these multiple challenges. They will take into account new evidence demonstrating that preserving the environment is essential to the survival of humankind. They will also recognize the cross-border nature of environmental challenges; the necessity to focus actions not only at national level, but also at subnational and city levels; the importance of identifying the most vulnerable; and the need for good governance, which includes involving stakeholders and citizens.

Working in partnership towards global goals

By focusing on the creation of supportive environments and resilient communities – one of the pillars of the WHO European policy for health and well-being (Health 2020) – the Sixth Ministerial Conference aims to position the European Environment and Health Process as a platform for implementing selected and relevant environment and health goals and targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in the European Region. The Conference is organized by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in close partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the United Nations Environment Programme, and is generously hosted by the Government of the Czech Republic, the Moravian-Silesian Region and the City of Ostrava.

Ministerial declaration for a future-looking Europe

The European Environment and Health Task Force, supported by its Ad-hoc Working Group, served as the steering body for the preparation of this Conference. The priorities for the Sixth Ministerial Conference were identified and negotiated through a broad, inclusive consultation process initiated at the High-Level Mid-term Review Meeting in Haifa, Israel, in 2015. At the Conference, Member States will adopt a declaration, which will include an action plan for its implementation and agreement on revised institutional arrangements for the European Environment and Health Process after 2017.