Oceania can be characterized by a richness of culture, biodiversity and natural resources and a particular future that the changing climate will bring to islands, livelihoods and ecosystems. We reviewed literature detailing the limitations of siloed approaches to public health and conservation action for regional sustainability, highlighting opportunities for regional integration as place-based, through activities that are locally relevant, innovative engagement across a broader variety of sectors and working with indigenous peoples’ knowledges. We present three case studies that extend and redefine the boundaries of the fields of public health and conservation, enabling collaborators to better respond to complex issues impacting biodiversity and human health. These case studies make explicit the links between nutrition, catchment management, water resources, fisheries, marine protected areas and communicable and non-communicable diseases. Public health and conservation are more meaningfully connected in place-based, reciprocal and compassionate activities, using common language to draw on the well-developed instruments of both sectors. These will include health impact assessments and combine health and ecological economics, which together will contribute to responding to an emergent set of challenges, namely human population increase, urbanization, overfishing and more severe aspects of climate change.