2016 is not only a new year. It is also a special year. But it’s not only a special year either. It’s also a historic year. It is a historic year literally because were founded in 1851, in New York, USA. That’s exactly 165 years ago and so in 2016 we are 165 years old. So, we have reason to be proud and we have reason to celebrate our anniversary…

The new year has begun and I hope it has started out well for all of you. 2016 is not only a new year. It is also a special year. But it’s not only a special year either. It’s also a historic year.

2016 is a new year, where IOGT International will do new things – together with our Member Organizations.

2016 is a special year for the International Board and myself because it marks the halftime of our mandate period.

And 2016 is a historic year. We were founded in 1851, in New York, USA. That’s exactly 165 years ago and so in 2016 we are 165 years old. So, we have reason to be proud and we have reason to celebrate our anniversary.

Celebration in five ways

We are going to celebrate our 165th anniversary through a series of flagship events. We are also going to celebrate our journey from 1851 to 2016 by highlighting our members and Member Organizations, and their stories, values, and heart-driven work. There’s no real celebration without special and unique products to mark the occasion. Therefore we are producing two anniversary posters, a special t-shirt and a unique bowtie. There will also be one more surprise that we are not revealing yet.

165 years is a long time and a lot has happened in that time. Therefore we want to celebrate our anniversary by looking at our history: we will publish interviews with our members – and these interviews will be archived at the US Congress Library; and we will publish articles about historic events and personalities from the IOGT movement.


Over 165 years, until today, we’ve come a long way. We only could do so, because we have been a movement and we have been working together all those years – different Member Organizations among themselves, different joint projects including IOGT International, different members who started innovative collaborations beyond borders, and ongoing support for one another in our common work towards a better world. In this spirit, we will celebrate our 165th anniversary by doing things together: something fun, and something serious.

Flagship IOGT events

We will kick off our anniversary year by going “back home.” We will have a special event in New York, on April 22 where we will discuss the alcohol free lifestyle in the 21st century, together with leading and esteemed people and organizations working for the promotion of an alcohol-free lifestyle.

We will look at the question of a) who is it that forms the movement of living free from alcohol? b) is there a common narrative for all these people? and c) how to best promote the benefits and attractiveness of the alcohol-free lifestyle? Doesn’t that sound exciting?

We continue with two flagship events in Europe. One will be held together with our friends at Active, at their Summer camp and congress called “Time for Color” in Poland. The other one will be held during the Slovak EU Presidency, addressing the situation of children of alcoholics in the European Union and advocating for change.

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Finally, we will gather in Sri Lanka for the final and major event of 2016. With the support of ADIC in Sri Lanka, we will arrange a conference that will both serve to summarise the discussions from New York, Poland, and Slovakia and that will provide us the platform to step into the future with momentum. In Sri Lanka we plan to launch a “revolution” and we hope that you will join us there.

Celebrating IOGT means celebrating our members

Celebrating IOGT actually means to celebrate our members and their stories. We have three ways to do just that:

  1. Sharing the stories of 165 IOGT heroes on our website. If you have an IOGT heroes whose story we should share, or if you want to share your own story, please get in touch.
  2. The myIOGT campaign will return with IOGT members from around the world sharing their one word for what IOGT means to them.
  3. We have a brand new section on our website called “Member’s News”. We will upload awesome news from among the 125 Member Organizations of IOGT International and highlight the heart-driven work they are doing all year round.

Special products for a special year

I mentioned it above in the introduction already: there’ll be a huge surprise to everyone, that we will launch later this year. In the meantime, we have prepared a beautiful t-shirt design that links to one other way of celebrating our anniversary and allows you all to really be part of it.


Our brand boosters are working on two awesome posters that celebrate our work since 1851. We will share them with you soon in the IOGT store.

And as a special perk, we are collaborating with our friends at H&E Design who are making unique bowties for us, to help us celebrate our movement and the difference we have been making since 1851.

Revisiting our proud history

I read a lot about our origins and where our values come from, and I enjoy exploring our history in different countries. We have reason to be tremendously proud of who we are, the difference our work has made over 165 years and how far we’ve come since 1851.

In that spirit, we will celebrate by revisiting our proud history through little articles about historic personalities that once were leading IOGT and that show what we stand for as a movement.

We will also regularly release beautiful, little interviews with our members in a special series, via the platform StoryCorps that will ensure all interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Better together

Celebration, like everything else, is better done and enjoyed together with others. We are sharing with you a great tool to facilitate that we will do impactful advocacy together this year and going forward. We call the tool our IOGT Advocacy Calendar. Check your mailboxes, you should have received it. This year, we will also hold online webinars to involve our members more interactively in our ongoing work and to share feedback from our advocacy around the world.

Untitled-2And we want to give you all the chance to celebrate together with our International Board and Office – through a fun and healthy initiative: Run 4 Sobriety – because since 1851 we do run sobriety, we will this year run 165 kilometres for sobriety. We will run – all together – between April (New York) and November (Sri Lanka). Stay tuned for the countdown to our Run 4 Sobriety #Since1851.

Ready, set, go…

I am so excited about 2016. We have a lot of awesome, small and big things planned to make this a remarkable year. It’s an honor and privilege to lead IOGT International and to be part of the journey that IOGT is on.

This year, we will highlight the values we stand for with renewed conviction. This year, we will step up our advocacy for child rights, women’s rights, sustainable development and better health and more democracy for people around the world. This year will be historic – and I invite you all to be part of it.