A range of collaborative governance mechanisms has developed in many policy arenas in the past decade. The study on governance for health in the 21st century tracks governance innovations that have been introduced to address priority determinants of health and summarizes them as five strategic approaches to smart governance for health. The study relates the emergence of joint action of the health sector and non-health sectors, of public and private actors and of citizens to achieve seminal changes in 21st-century societies. They include a new understanding of health and well-being as key features of what constitutes a successful society and vibrant economy and the higher value placed on equity and participation. The study further describes the type of structures and mechanisms that enable collaboration and outlines the new role that health ministers and ministries and public health agencies need to adopt in such a challenging policy environment.