Few of the most serious problems facing people or the planet can be tackled by action in one sector alone. The complex and interlinked range of hazards and risks requires the development of integrated policies that address health, environment and development goals coherently.
At the Libreville Conference on health and environment in Africa, in 2008, ministers of health and ministers of environment mutually recognized that social and economic development could not be achieved sustainably without addressing the root causes of ill health simultaneously with threats to the integrity of ecosystems. They decided therefore to demonstrate the importance of interlinkages between environment and health with a view to achieving sustainable development. They agreed to promote an integrated approach to policy making in the health and environment sectors that fully takes into account the services that ecosystems provide to human health. They also agreed on specific actions required to leverage the necessary changes in institutional arrangements and investment frameworks for mitigating environmental threats to human health. They consequently established the Health and Environment Strategic Alliance (HESA) as the basis of their plans of joint action and a regional platform for intersectoral dialogue.
The momentum built in Libreville in 2008 catalyzed an unprecedented intersectoral and multistakeholder dialogue. The implementation of the Libreville Declaration has started to yield clear results at the policy, programmatic and institutional levels. It has brought a new and dynamic impetus for intersectoral coordinated actions.
Bringing health and environment jointly into the broader context of economic development provides a unique opportunity to stimulate and support synergistic strategies for sustainable development ensuring greater effectiveness of programmes, maximizing the use of limited or diminishing resources and increasing impacts on decision making - all of which are of critical importance in defining and ensuring a successful implementation of the post 2015 agenda for development.