Insight & Analysis

Press Release: Announcing the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development: rethinking policy priorities in the light of pandemics

Published: Aug 2020

11th August 2020 – The WHO Regional Office for Europe is convening a Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development to rethink policy priorities in the light of pandemics.

Newspaper press release

After identifying and reviewing the relevant evidence, the Commission will draw lessons from the ways in which different countries‘ health systems have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and will make recommendations on investments and reforms to improve the resilience of health and social care systems.

The Commission will also seek to build consensus on these recommendations and to elevate health and social care as societal and political priorities, recognized as being critical to both sustainable development and social cohesion.

The Commission will be chaired by Professor Mario Monti, President of Bocconi University and former Prime Minister of Italy and a former European Commissioner. The Commission will be composed of former heads of states and governments, distinguished life scientists and economists, heads of health and social care institutions, and leaders of the business community and financial institutions.

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, stated, “Our goal is to position health at the top of the political agenda within the Sustainable Development Goals, and to strengthen the resilience of health and social care systems in the 53 Member States of the WHO European Region. We are proud that Professor Mario Monti, highly respected for his leadership shown as Prime Minister of Italy at a critical time, as European Commissioner and as President of Bocconi University, has accepted to chair the Commission. This new Pan-European Commission collectively pools the knowledge and wisdom of a continent-wide network of leaders, policy-makers, scientists and civil society to identify, formulate and address key questions about the future of health and social care systems in the WHO European Region.”

“I am honoured to chair the new Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development,” said Professor Monti. “This pandemic has compounded the inequalities and divisions that are paralysing our societies and preventing progress on sustainable development. I regard WHO‘s decision to set up this high-level independent Commission as a progressive step towards shaping a more effective, integrated approach to health and well-being, as a bedrock for sustainable development. I am delighted that the Commission will be able to count on a Scientific Coordinator of the caliber of Professor Elias Mossialos, Founder and Director of the LSE Department of Health Policy.”

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge will jointly launch the Commission when it holds its inaugural meeting on 26 August 2020. A press briefing will also be held at this time – 16:30 CEST on Wednesday 26 August 2020. The WHO Regional Office for Europe will convene and act as secretariat to the Commission and support the production of the Commission report.

Supported by a Scientific Advisory Board, the Commission will oversee and direct the collection and review of relevant evidence by a network of researchers, practitioners and scientists from across the Region. The Commission is to complete its work and present its final report by September 2021.

Dr Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, concluded, “the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development embodies the political imperative of the WHO European Programme of Work: namely, to support countries in meeting citizens’ expectations towards their health authorities. This programme of work will be put to the 53 Member States for their endorsement at WHO’s annual governance meeting, the 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, in September this year.”

Commission composition:


  • Professor Mario Monti, President, Bocconi University, former Prime Minister of Italy, former European Commissioner

Scientific Coordinator

  • Professor Elias Mossialos, Head, Department of Health Policy, London School of Economics and former Minister of State, Greece



  • Sir Suma Chakrabarti KCB, former President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • Professor Beatrice Weder di Mauro, President of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Professor of International Economics at The Graduate Institute of Geneva, Research Professor and Distinguished Fellow at INSEAD‘s Emerging Markets Institute.
  • Professor Louise Fresco, President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board
  • Ms Sylvie Goulard, Deputy Governor of the Bank of France, former Minister of Defence, former Member of the European Parliament
  • Ms Tarja Halonen, former President of the Republic of Finland
  • Mr Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former President of the Republic of Estonia
  • Professor Luise Hölscher, Deputy CEO, Stiftung Rehabilitation Heidelberg (SRH) Holding, former Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
  • Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Research, Past President, European Public Health Association, Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies
  • Lord Jim O’Neill of Gatley, Chair of Chatham House and former UK Treasury Minister
  • Ms Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan
  • Professor Janvier Rafael Bengoa Renteira, Director of the Institute for Health and Strategy (SI-Health) and former Minister for Health in the Basque Regional Government, Spain
  • Ms Guler Sabanci, Chair of Sabanci Holding and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Sabanci Foundation
  • Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister of Denmark, former CEO of Save the Children
  • Mr Igor Shuvalov, Chairman of VEB.RF (State Development Corporation), former First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation
  • Dr Anna Stavdal, World President-elect of WONCA (World Organization of Family Doctors)
  • Professor Willem Van Lerberghe, former Director for Health Systems Policies, World Health Organization

Special Advisor to the Chair

  • Professor Aleksandra Torbica, Director of the Centre for Research on Health and Social Care Management, Bocconi University

For further information and media queries, please contact: Liuba Negru, Media Relations Officer, Tel.: +45 45 33 67 89, Mobile: +45 20 45 92 74, Email:

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