In this study, ‘governance for health’ is defined as the attempts of governments or other actors to steer communities, countries or groups of countries in the pursuit of health as integral to wellbeing through both a ‘whole-of-government’ and a ‘whole-of-society’ approach. It positions health and well-being as key features of what constitutes a successful society and a vibrant economy in the 21st century and grounds policies and approaches in values such as human rights and equity. Governance for health promotes joint action of health and non-health sectors, of public and private actors and of citizens for a common interest. It requires a synergistic set of policies, many of which reside in sectors other than health as well as sectors outside of government, which must be supported by structures and mechanisms that enable collaboration. It gives strong legitimacy to health ministers and ministries and to public health agencies, to help them reach out and perform new roles in shaping policies to promote health and wellbeing.