Pre-conference: Health literacy, health education and healthy life styles: connections and contradictions towards sustainability and the role of Salutogenesis

Wednesday 8 November, 9:00 – 12:30 Dublin time (followed by network lunch)

Organised by:

EUPHA Health promotion section; University of Education, Freiburg (Germany); Health Institute of Coimbra (Portugal)


The EPH conference this year focuses on 'Our Food, Our Health, Our Earth: A Sustainable Future for Humanity'. Aligned with this overwhelming issue the EUPHA Health promotion section in conjunction with University of Education, Freiburg, the Center for Health Promotion Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Division of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and Health Institute of Coimbra, Portugal, aims at deepen this debate from the health literacy perspective on  sustainability.

In this context, it is important to consider the role of health promotion in dealing with sustainability. Through the lens of health literacy, one of the three pillars of health promotion, the need for strong public systems and supportive settings as well as lifestyles changes will be explored as mechanisms of increased sustainability. At the heart of the health promotion response to sustainability is the need to increase people’s control over their own health, to enhance social cohesion and solidarity, and to (re)build public trust and collective responsibility for population health and wellbeing. There is a need for effective communication and community mobilization efforts to enhance protective and self-care behaviors, and measures at a societal, community and individual level.. Successful community engagement supported by new digital opportunities for safe communication, is key to coping successfully with this crisis and its many disruptive consequences at a societal level. As such, health promotion has a central role to play in empowering communities and individuals in adopting effective responses and managing the psychosocial impacts of the multi-layered consequences of an increasingly unsustainable world. The health promotion community has an advocacy role to play in arguing for sustained investment in public health systems that favour lifestyles compatible with the needs the of natural ecosystems on which wellbeing is dependent. This is where the transformative potential of health promotion comes alive,  promising the best health for every human being. Even though concepts like health promotion or health literacy are widely and almost unintentionally used, their potential in global sustainability challenges is little discussed.

In this pre-conference, we want to focus particularly on the relationship of such broad concepts within the salutogenesis framework, seeking to understand how health literacy can empower health creation towards a sustainable future. From this perspective practical issues arise: although all health and education systems seek to provide solutions to the basic needs of wellbeing, it is not always clear how health promoters can adapt them towards promising opportunities to intervene in the area of healthy lifestyles. Introducing the principles and strategies of health promotion, and addressing the operationalization of the salutogenic paradigm, this pre-conference explores how health literacy might be used to empower people and communities towards healthy and sustainable lifestyles.

From this perspective rather practical issues arise: Although any health and education systems rely on providing solutions to the basic need of health and wellbeing, it is not always clear how one can find a promising opportunity to intervene in the area of healthy lifestyles. Introducing the principles and strategies of health promotion, addressing the operationalization of the salutogenesis paradigm, to explore critically what health concepts and paradigms could be deployed to realize health and wellbeing, this pre-conference is also the opportunity to discuss Health, Healthy Lifestyle and Health Literacy.

Objectives and activities

The main goal of this pre-conference is to open new perspectives on genuine participation as a means to highlight the transformational potential of health promotion in sustainability. By shifting participation as a mantra, to participation as a practice, this pre-conference aims at establishing a stronger focus to inclusion as part of health-for-all-policies. During the preconference we will:

  1. identify gaps between discourse and practice in participation
  2. discuss a range of practices and tools to guide the transformational potential of health promotion in sustainability
  3. share priority areas for moving ahead with genuine participation in life-style changes

These issues will be addressed in two sessions, in which we will explore different perspectives to the future of the transformational potential of health promotion focusing on the global and the national level.

Organizational arrangements

The active participation of attendants will be supported by an online platform before, during and after the pre-conference. After registration, participants will receive a link to dedicated resources. The platform will also be used during and after the conference, especially for the collaborative writing of the statement.

Every presentation will come along a set of questions to be discussed with participants. Attendees will also contribute by stating observations and conclusions on the lessons drawn from the discussions that will be summarised in a statement to be disseminated within the networks of the organising institutions and beyond.

A paper presenting the statement will be published afterwards. Much effort will also be invested in fostering a shared vision of Towards Homo Salus: Unleashing the Transformational Potential of Health Promotion in Sustainability through Genuine Participation and new collaborations between the participants.

We also hope that providing a space for attendees and speakers to network may generate other unexpected outcomes.


The detailed programme can be downloaded here


The registration fee is € 75 which includes networking lunch and refreshments.