Health Promoting Society

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Directorate of Health

A health-promoting society is a society where the health and well-being of all residents is prioritised when planning policy and actions in all areas.

SDGs related to the project

Project description

The project Health Promoting Society (HPS) is a holistic undertaking managed by the Directorate of Health in co-operation and consultation with local authorities, various ministries, institutions and other stakeholders. Municipalities themselves take the initiative to become HPSs. The head of the municipality or town signs a co-operation agreement to work systematically for the well-being of all residents. The framework of the project is established with a steering group and contact person. Targeted public health work involves the use of public health indicators, checklists and other data to assess the situation and determine priorities according to the needs of each community. Work focuses on factors influencing health and well-being, such as social, economic and cultural conditions, and the man-made and natural environment (see figure) to promote the well-being of everyone. The successful implementation of a Health Promoting Society should thus include work involving all 17 SDGs and strengthening all three pillars of sustainability. The work of Health Promoting Preschool, Compulsory and Secondary Schools and Health Promoting Workplaces overlap and are important parts of HPS work. In January 2023, about 95% of the country's population lived in a community participating in Health Promoting Society. HPS is also the local Icelandic network for WHO’s Healthy Cities.

Objectives of the project

The main goal of Health Promoting Society is to support communities in creating environments and conditions that promote healthy lifestyles and the health and well-being of all residents. This is consistent with SDG 3, Good health and well-being, and fits well with the SDGs' key focus of leaving no one behind in their implementation.

When is the target expected to be achieved?

Sustainability, with an emphasis on long-term work and results, is one of HPS's guiding principles. The task is a long-term project and is under constant review and development.

Measurement of performance

The framework and progress of the project is assessed, among other things, through surveys among HPS contacts, the situation indicated by checklists in the HPS web system, and by public health indicators.

Project progress

8 February 2021 

At the beginning of 2019, 23 municipalities had become Health Promoting Societies. By January 2023, they were 38 in number, and included about 95% of the country's population. According to a survey of HPS contacts in 2021, for example, around 94% very strongly or strongly agreed that participation in the HPS project was useful.  The connection with SDGs is now indicated in all of HPS work, such as in co-operation agreements and in all presentations. HPS checklists contain special criteria linked to the SDGs, and relevant targets have also been linked to the HPS checklist criteria in the HPS web system, where each municipality has its own work area. In this way, municipalities not only evaluate their progress in the implementation of HPS, but also, in parallel, in the implementation of the SDGs. Example: On the HPS checklist “Well-being with a healthy diet”, 13 municipalities have assessed their situation regarding criterion 5.6: The municipality makes it easy for residents to sort and dispose of food-related waste in an environmentally friendly manner. On a scale of 1-5, where 1 means not at all implemented and 5 is fully implemented, there are two municipalities that rate their status as 5, one municipality rates its status as 1, and the others are in between. The average score is 3.2. The checklist criterion 5.6 is linked to targets of SDGs nos. 3, 11 and 12.

Project status


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