Creating ‘wellbeing societies’: moving from rhetoric to action

Faten Ben Abdelaziz, Carmel Williams, Yasmine J. Anwar, Vivian Lin, Ruediger Krech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Several global challenges have emerged and coalesced in recent times, including climate change and environmental crises; growing health and social inequalities; geopolitical conflicts; and increasing rates of both communicable and noncommunicable and mental health diseases. The urgency and need for change has never been greater. In response, governments are paying increasing attention to the notion of wellbeing as an integrating concept to drive action to address these challenges. They are beginning to take action by introducing wellbeing indexes; wellbeing budgets; joined-up ‘triple bottom line’ approaches to policy making, and the inclusion of civil society in the decision-making processes. To date, these steps have been sporadic and localised; yet if these multiple social, environmental and economic crises are to be averted, coherent and systematic actions at the global, national and local levels are needed. The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have come together to map a path forward through the Geneva Charter for Well-being and the Well-being Framework. These aim to set the foundation and direction for action. They map the pathway towards a ‘wellbeing society’, a concept WHO brought to attention in the Geneva Charter. The intention is to support and galvanise nations to build on their nascent efforts to adopt a welbeing agenda, and move beyond rhetoric to take concerted action. To achieve the promise of ‘wellbeing societies’ will require developing new governance models,bringing all sectors together to define the problems and solutions, adopting new economic levers, and reorienting financing systems to focus on what is truly important. In this paper we describe the background and context for these initiatives, the concept of wellbeing societies and how the WHO is advancing this global agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3322310
JournalPublic Health Research and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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