A new international charter was signed today by universities and colleges from around the world committed to bringing health promotion and sustainability into all their policies and practices.
The Okanagan Charter was developed by delegates attending the International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, hosted at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, BC, June 22 to 25.
“Universities and other higher education institutions play a central role in all aspects of the development of individuals, communities, societies and cultures, at every level — global, regional, national and local,” says Conference Chair Claire Budgen, Wellbeing Initiative Director and Associate Professor Emerita Nursing at UBC Okanagan. “As such, higher education has a special leadership role to play in the promotion of health across sectors, departments, disciplines and professions.”
The first institutions to sign the Okanagan Charter were represented by UBC President Arvind Gupta, Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, Simon Fraser University Student Society President Enoch Weng, and UBC Students’ Union Okanagan President Tom Macauley.
The Okanagan Charter offers two calls to action for universities, colleges and other institutions of higher education:
- Embed health into campus operations, business, academics, and campus culture
- Lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally
“Health promoting universities and colleges embed and value health in everyday operations, business practices, and academic mandates, to enhance the success of our institutions,” says Martin Mroz, Conference Co-Chair and Director of Health and Counselling Services at Simon Fraser University, the conference Practice Partner Leader.
“Universities and colleges have a unique opportunity and responsibility to educate, develop new knowledge and model practices of benefit to society,” says Mroz. “They create campus cultures of wellbeing and equity, improve the health of the people who live, learn, work and play on our campuses, and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of our communities and wider society.”
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