Rio+20 ends with commitment to health

What’s the point in saving the planet, if you don’t save its people? Novo Nordisk came to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro with the goal of placing health on the sustainability agenda, and a hope that non-communicable diseases (NCD's) would be acknowledged as a major challenge for sustainable development.

Both wishes came true: under item 141 in the final agreement, the 193 UN Member States acknowledge that 'the global burden and threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitutes one of the major challenges for sustainable development in the twenty first century and commit to ‘strengthen health systems toward the provision of equitable, universal coverage’ and ‘establish or strengthen multi-sector national policies for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases’.

Health and sustainability go hand in hand

The World Economic Forum estimates that over the next two decades, non-communicable diseases will cost the global economy 47 trillion US dollars. With the majority of this burden being placed on low– and middle-income countries, Novo Nordisk held the event – “Next Generation Living” - on Thursday 21 June in Rio to raise awareness of the connections between health and sustainability. The event was organised in partnership with the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, the Global Health Council, the NCD Alliance and Sustainia.

The event demonstrated the links between NCDs and economic, social and environmental development and explored solutions in cities, workplaces and schools. Urban design and transportation planning, workplace wellness and health literacy were among the topics on the programme.

"We need to work together to tackle non-communicable diseases - no organisation is making a difference on its own," said Lise Kingo, Executive Vice President, Novo Nordisk.

Among event speakers were Associate Professor Ruth Colaguiri, NCD Alliance and vice-president of the International Diabetes Federation; Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of the Pan American Health Organisation; Enrique Peñalosa, former Mayor of Bogota; and Dr Nicholas Alipui, head of UNICEF programmes.

Download Next Generation Living speaker presentations below:

NCDs and sustainability: Twin crises – One Solution?” Associate Professor Ruth Colaguiri, NCD Alliance, Vice-President International Diabetes Federation

Equity, Sustainability and Quality of Life in cities” Enrique Peñalosa, Urban thinker and strategist and former mayor of the city of Bogotá, Colombia

Advancing Healthy and Sustainable Living in a Global Workplace” Lise Kingo, Executive Vice President, Novo Nordisk A/S

Facts for Life: Schools and Health Literacy” Dr Nicholas Alipui, Director of UNICEF Programmes

Visualising ‘Next Generation Living’” Laura Storm, Executive Director, SUSTAINIA

About Sustainability at Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk strives to conduct its activities in a financially, environmentally and socially responsible way. The strategic commitment to corporate sustainability has brought the company onto centre stage as a leading player in today’s business environment, recognised for its integrated reporting, stakeholder engagement and consistently high sustainability performance. In 2012, Novo Nordisk received the top ranking on Corporate Knight’s list of Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations. Novo Nordisk is listed in the 2010/2011 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices with a gold class rating. For more information, visit