The Okanagan Charter

A key outcome of the 2015 International Conference on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges was the development of the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The Charter was developed in collaboration with researchers, practitioners, administrators, students and policy makers from 45 countries representing both educational institutions and health organizations.

The Charter provides a framework with two Calls to Action, key action areas and overall principles that together guide the development of Health Promoting Universities and Colleges.

At the conference, 380 higher education leaders and delegates, including network and organization representatives, signed a Pledge to bring the Okanagan Charter “back to their settings to inspire and catalyze further action towards the creation of health promoting universities and colleges.” Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) joined in the pledge.

The Charter has inspired universities across Canada and internationally to take action in embedding well-being into their everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates. A review undertaken by UBC showed that 16 of 18 universities interviewed — largely Canadian institutions — expressed interest in using the Charter to guide action. Many also signaled the importance of bringing the Charter forward to senior leadership for further buy-in.