On Sunday the World Health Summit starts in Berlin and I have the pleasure and privilege to be representing IOGT International. It’s a great opportunity for IOGT International to build on the work done at the World Health Assembly this year and at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion. I am looking forward a lot to the World Health Summit.
But I am also still in Seoul at the GAPC 2013, still marvelling on all the IOGT people I met, still inspired by the work we are able to do as global IOGT family, still enchanted by the impressions and lessons learned at the conference and the thrill of my own presentation there.
I figure, the best way of dealing with this in-between-feeling is to dive into the memories from GAPC 2013. In this spirit I’d like to share with you a little best of – in terms of social media, the most interesting presentation, the highlight for IOGT International, and finally personally the best experience for myself.
Starting with the social media, a quick look into the hashtag #GAPC2013 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram shows that the Global Alcohol Policy Conference has not managed to fully use the power of social media, only a few people were very active and I think in general there’s a need for a more modern approach overall.
We managed to live stream Sven-Olov’s presentation about Big Alcohol’s tactics.
The most successful tweet comes from Andrine, who is the Vice President of IOGT-NTO:
I think that the best tweet from #GAPC2013 is this one below because it’s up to the point, sharp and clear and expresses in an unmistakable way the pitfalls of the alcohol culture we have to live in today.
I also enjoyed the tweets from our friend Bob Pezzolesi of the New York Alcohol Policy Alliance and this one, I think, is a great example:
On Instagram #GAPC2013 has only thirteen posts and most of them are from IOGT International but there’s one by my friend @wanda_wonder which reminds me of the great work and inspiring presentation done by Dr THAKSAPON THAMARANGSI or better known as Mek, which he prefers.
That brings me to the next category in my best of: the most interesting and inspiring presentation. It was given by Mek during the opening session of the conference.
Mek and the team of Thai Health within the IHPP and HPR are doing fantastic, heart-driven work to prevent alcohol harm, and promote health. In his presentation he shared some of the emotional stories of alcohol harm behind the facts and figures with us, stories that he came across as medical doctor working in the field.
As you can see Mek’s topic was Alcohol’s harm to others and harm to all. He made a compelling case, based on the research done by his team and rooted in the real life stories of alcohol harm, for updating and reframing the understanding of alcohol’s social harm.
To my mind his presentation was truly inspiring and exciting because of the combination of scientific evidence, human stories, moral arguments and economic data – and all of it employed to launch an innovative way of looking at and dealing with alcohol’s social harm. Along those lines I am sharing a couple of slides with you
Alcohol’s social harm is complex, unjust and can be prevented through evidence-based, high-impact alcohol policies. To be able to successfully reduce and prevent alcohol’s harm to others is dependent on having the right and most comprehensive understanding of it.
We simply need to look at alcohol’s social harm holistically to find an integrated approach, meaning both
– to consider that health and social harm overlap and often heighten one another;
– to not only view the individual and short-term dimension but the panoramic view of also taking into account the collective and long-term dimensions.
Alcohol’s harm to others costs tremendous sums of suffering, pain – which are largely intangible; but some of the harm can be measured and for the case of Thailand Mek showed that alcohol harm is double the amount of tax revenue from alcohol. That brought him to the conclusion:
How come it’s still okay that Big Alcohol takes home huge profits while individuals, families, children and youth, women and girls, communities, workplaces, school classes and sports teams and whole societies suffer from the harm they leave behind?
In IOGT International we conduct our work worldwide guided by four principles and also in that spirit we were able to present our latest, ground-breaking campaign Inspire Freedom. IOGT International Vice President Kristina held her presentation, too:
The four principles then are:
– Invest in individuals
– Support families
– Strengthen communities
– Develop societies,
which is precisely in line of what Mek talked about when it comes to preventing harms to others.
That allows me to tell you a bit about the next category of this little best of: IOGT moment.
The best IOGT moment was the mingle we arranged on the first evening. There were many other wonderful moments throughout the conference, an event with 850 participants from 55 countries and meeting and discussing in 32 sessions. Out of of those 32 sessions, IOGT International had oral presenters in about one third of them. We were almost 40 IOGT members from more than twelve countries, three continents and a myriad of different IOGT International member organisations.
And therefore it was the most beautiful IOGT moment for me to experience this mingle, meet all friends from around the world and discuss the upcoming IOGT International World Congress next year (and many other topics).
And a couple of minutes later it looked like that:
I am very happy and thankful that we managed to arrange this mingle because it is in those moments that we all together realise how huge IOGT is and how many we are and what kind of impact we have on conferences like GAPC and the whole field of preventing and reducing alcohol harm.
And finally my last best of category: personal highlight.
Personally I am proud of the presentation I held at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference. I introduced the concept of Alcohol in All Policies (AiAP) and reflected on the challenges and benefits of this approach to alcohol policy advocacy.
I want to share with you one slide and will come back to the topic in a later blog entry. So stay tuned.
But the biggest among all the highlights personally was to meet so many of my friends from the IOGT family. I am always deeply touched by the heart-driven work each of them is doing, by their commitment and by the kind of persons each of them is, value driven and dedicated to contribute to make the world a better place. This is truly inspiring to me and this conference was often about feeling and embracing this inspiration whenever I had the chance to meet some of my friends.
Here are some examples:
Good friends from Bosnia and Sweden, posing in the end of the conference.
Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Slovakia united to discuss prevention of alcohol harm beyond borders.
And here I am with my good friend and IOGT hero Teera of Stop Drink Network. We are discussing – together with Kristina (behind the camera) – the preparations of the IOGT International World Congress 2014 in Thailand.
I am headed towards Berlin now and I carry within me the best of film of IOGT greatness. At the latest, see you next year in Thailand at our World Congress.
For more pictures from GAPC 2013, please check out our Facebook album #GAPC2013.