Do you also know the feeling in the end of every year, of amazement and thankfulness, mixed with some tiredness admittedly but also with the first seeds of excitement for the new year?
This is how I am feeling right now.
2013 is coming to an end. It has been a high-octane year for us in IOGT International – for all board members, for our office staff and for all our member organisations. 2013 has been a year in the history of IOGT that gave us plenty of reasons to feel amazed, inspired, grateful and impressed. We have done a lot this year thanks to the heart-driven dedication and tireless commitment of hundreds of thousands of IOGT members worldwide.
In this spirit I want to wish everyone happy holidays and a peaceful, healthy and successful 2014.
I just came home from my last trip this year. One of our fantastic member organisations, Centros de Integracion Juvenile (CIJ), arranged the annual conference on prevention of harm from substances such as alcohol and other drugs. I had the opportunity to experience again what capacities IOGT International members do have and on my way back home I started thinking about CIJ and the difference their work makes in Mexico, and it struck me that we have many more member organisations worldwide whose work has great importance for children, youth, families, communities and societies.
It is the work of all members that inspires the IOGT International Board and Office. And it is in the spirit of our members we work heart-driven on global level. So, please take a little ride with me through the biggest events and accomplishments for IOGT International in 2013: 38 most fascinating moments of 2013.
1) We started off in January by meeting with the Malaysian group for the translation of “Alcohol No Ordinary Commodity” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
2) Another great start to the year we saw in February in Thailand where our Executive Director was a key-note speaker at 7th National Alcohol Conference, Bangkok.
3) On Valentine’s Day we joined V-Day and contributed to the One Billion Rising event in Dar Es Salaam in February.
4) And we empowered both member and partner organisations to engage in our Inspire Freedom Campaign.
5) And we kicked off the year by capacity-building members of UNF in alcohol policy advocacy.
6) In the beginning of March I was in New Delhi, India to participate in and give a presentation on alcohol policy at the project workshop between the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in New Delhi, 5-7 March. As a result of this project a report on “Alcohol Marketing and Regulatory Policy Environment in India” has recently been published.
7) In March we participated for the first time ever in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57). We advocated for women’s rights, gender equality and for the need to address alcohol harm as an obstacle to the freedom and equality of women and girls. We issued an Oral Statement together with decision-makers from around the world. And we even arranged a successful Parallel Event addressing the issue of alcohol as a factor in gender-based violence.
8) Almost at the same time we were not only present in New York at CSW57 but also in Vienna at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). In Vienna we hosted a Side Event with the government of Lao PDR and the Lao Women Union addressing the work of women organisations to prevent harm caused by alcohol and other drugs.
9) Later on in March we supported our European youth platform, Active – sobriety, friendship and peace, at their training course in Tartu, Estonia. We conducted a workshop for European youth on communication skills, self-esteem, values.
10) We had the opportunity to participate in the Global Health Beyond 2015 conference in Stockholm, in April.
11) And we went on a capacity-building trip into the European Union capital, Brussels, with members of UNF.
12) Almost at the same time as we were engaging in political work in Brussels, I was doing advocacy on the other side of the Atlantic. I participated in The Alcohol Policy 16 Conference (AP 16), Washington, USA, 3-5 April. AP 16 is a series of conferences on the avoidance of alcohol-related problems using public policy strategies.
13) We also had Vidar, back then President of UNF, and Sampath of ADIC Sri Lanka, representing IOGT International in New Delhi at a follow-up event of the March workshop I attended: They had presentations and provided know-how at the Students’ Parliament on Health, New Delhi.
14) Also in April we participated in and held a presentation at the Indochinese meeting of Parliamentarians on Alcohol policy in Ha Noi, Viet Nam.
15) Our Vice President got invited to the first European Primary Prevention Conference (EPPC) in Tallin, Estonia, where she held a presentation about prevention of alcohol harm among youth.
16) May was another great month for IOGT International as we participated in the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. Two of the highlights were the adoption of the action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2020 – which we have been strongly advocating for over the last two, three years – as well as the adoption of the global mental health action plan.
We prepared a new booklet for this event: Profit Over Human Rights.
17) In the end of May we were also present at the General Assembly of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, in Brussels.
18) It was also a great pleasure and privilege for us to welcome the board of VNGOC in Stockholm in May. We organised the Board meeting for the Vienna NGO Committee in Stockholm and had a wonderful time. Our Executive Director has the honor of serving as Vice President for VNGOC.
19) We were honoured to receive an invitation to the Global Health Promotion Conference, organised by the Finish government and WHO, in Helsinki, in June – and used this unique opportunity to network, spread know-how about the operations of Big Alcohol and learn more about the concept of Health in All Policies.
20) As the summer approached, we got ready to join some of our member organisations for their congresses: IOGT Switzerland, IOGT-NTO, Junis, and UNF – all were great events to meet members and get inspired by their fantastic work.
21) We were back in Vienna at the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for a meeting with Vienna NGO Committee at a session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
22) As our headquarters are based in Sweden, it’s always a great opportunity for us to participate in the one-of-its-kind event called Almedalen – a political week in the Swedish city of Visby where all political parties, civil society organisations, researchers and academics as well as companies turn out to discuss politics and policies. We attended as well by participating in a number of panels, capacity-building UNF members and by networking with relevant stakeholders.
Our summer break was brief, since we got ready to be both in South East Asia and East Africa:
23) Our Policy Officer went on a trip through four countries in East Africa to run capacity-building workshops with national alcohol policy alliances and with our partner East African Alcohol Policy Alliance. It was cool to follow him under the Hashtag #EATrip13.
24) At the same time our Board Member Pubudu and our Executive Director were in Pattaya, Thailand to run a Side Event at the 21st IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion.
25) In September, we continued our efforts to empower youth by capacity-building NSF members in alcohol policy and understanding the operations of Big Alcohol.
26) I took part in the GAPA Board of Directors meeting in Seoul, where I was reelected for another term on the GAPA Board.
Another highlight of this already fantastic year was the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) in Seoul, organised by our partner GAPA. We were happy to be co-sponsors of this conference again. And I was especially delighted and inspired to meet so many IOGT members from Europe, Africa and Asia. I myself, our Vice President, our Policy Officer and some of our members, for example KYA and IOGT-NTO all held presentations at GAPC and made it a success.
You can find my presentation live streamed on our IOGT International Bambuser page.
27) Right after GAPC we also conducted another round of the Consultative Meeting on Effective Measures in Reduction of Alcohol Consumption with Members of Senate and National Assembly of South East Asian countries, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
28) Esbjörn and myself would meet up again in Macau. We participated in the IFNGO (International Federation of NGOs for the Prevention of Drugs and Substance Abuse) and OFAP (Organization of the Families of Asia and the Pacific) joint 2013 International Conference: ‘Reinforce the Family’ – ‘For a better and Sustainable Future’ in Macau, China 21-25 October.
I had the privilege to give two presentations, one on “The development of Alcohol Policy in an international context”, and one on “The development on Tobacco Policy”. I was elected as the 2nd Vice President of IFNGO at its biannual meeting.
29) The World Health Summit was held in Berlin, in October and IOGT was there, too – as one of very few civil society movements and as the only NGO dealing with the prevention and reduction of alcohol harm.
30) In the beginning of November we had the opportunity to join a couple of seminars organised by IOGT-NTO that featured Lori Heise of STRIVE sharing state-of-the-art know-how about gender-based violence, alcohol and HIV.
31) Our Vice President had the opportunity to join a regional workshop in Chisinau, Moldova, organised by UNDP and WHO about the intersections of alcohol, HIV/ Aids and gender-based violence. She presented our work on gender-based violence, including evidence about alcohol being a factor in both the HIV/ Aids epidemic and the burden of violence against women and girls.
32) As you have understood from this little trip through the accomplishments of 2013, we also do great work on the narcotic drug issue, of course and so it was a good opportunity for us to participate in the International Scientific Conference on Cannabis and Health in Stockholm, 20-21 November, organised by the Government of Sweden.
33) One of the biggest highlights this year was the IOGT Rehab and Social Work Conference, in Berlin in the end of November. We gathered IOGT members of Europe and Asia and discussed the pillars of our work for a better world: prevention, advocacy and rehabilitation and social work.
This was another event to marvel about the heart-driven work by IOGT International member organisations that really makes a difference for people, for example for children of alcoholics, families, and children from precarious socio-economic backgrounds.
34) In December it was time once more for a trip to for another session with the Vienna NGO Committee and Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
35) I am also especially pleased about our cooperation with the World Family Organization. They are doing brilliant work and organised the World Family Summit +9 (WFS+9), in Berlin. We were able to give a presentation as key-note speaker there to show how the potential of families can be unleashed for promoting development when alcohol harm is addressed. We got very positive feedback and made new friends at WFS+9.
36) Once more we were lucky to send two of our highly competent members to New Delhi. Simon and Sampath represented IOGT in another workshop within the frames of the project we’re involved in. This time we shared our expertise concerning health promotion in innovative ways, especially using social media.
37) As I have mentioned above, just a few days ago, I participated in Centors de Integración Juvenile 15th International Congress “Public Policy for Addiction Care” in Cancun, Mexico, 2-6 December. I made two plenary presentations, one on the topic “Drug Policy Must Focus on Use; Legalization is Not the Solution”, and one on the topic “The Swedish Drug Policy Experience in the context of Europe”. Nearly 2.000 participants attended the Congress.
38) And eventually we rounded off this year of capacity-building, advocacy, representation and collaboration with another advocacy trip to Brussels addressing the issues of alcohol harm within the free trade context and within the development aid context.
In 2013 our membership grew again. As we welcome new member organisations from around the world, we get stronger and our global movement gets more vibrant. Our capacities to do more and to do better are growing and so is the impact IOGT International has. Most importantly, we as global umbrella for the IOGT movement couldn’t do anything without the dedication, commitment and heart-driven work of our members.
We will all meet in 2014 at our World Congress to exchange ideas and inspiration and to marvel about the impact different projects and activities by IOGT members have around the globe. I cannot wait!