I am scrolling through IOGT International’s Instagram account looking back at our 2017. The year was very rich! And very successful. I am thankful for this moment of writing my blog for you, as it gives me some time to take it all fully in. I’d love to share three secrets for our successes with you. Why don’t you join me in wrapping up 2017?
Secret #1: Innovation
Innovation is a buzz word. But being innovative is difficult. It demands honesty, critical thinking and sharp analysis about the world around us and about ourselves. I’m proud that we are asking these tough questions in IOGT International. And I believe the results in 2017 speak for themselves.
We have started the year by launching our EPIcc Sustainability Challenge. EPIcc stands for Empowerment, Participation and Innovation campaign and center. The EPIcc Sustainability Challenge is a unique platform to start the conversation about solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. We bring together young emerging leaders to explore how human and planetary health can best be advanced together. The EPIcc Sustainability Challenge is designed to equip bright young minds with the skills, expertise and network they need to realise their vision for a better world.
There are many people interested in sustainability. However few of them think of alcohol harm (in particular and Non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes in general) as obstacles to creating the world they want. That is why we developed EPIcc. We also used EPIcc as an approach in cooperation with Active – sobriety, friendship and peace. We understood that EPIcc empowers our members, refreshes their work and transforms their ideas into action.
This year was headlined by another innovation. We call it: Drink Revolution campaign. Drink Revolution is about shattering the current hamrful alcohol norm; it’s about questioning our relation with alcohol; and it’s about promoting the alcohol-free lifestyle through celebration of alcohol-free choices and all their benefits. This year, we celebrated the first ever Global Drink Revolution Day on October 3rd. We have created a very unusual Drink Book that I believe challenges all the norms including the ones about what a Drink Book should contain. The campaign continues and we are building new engaging interactions with all Drink Revolutionaries.
Secret #2: Support
That is important to me. Working for our members, working closely together with our members and actually working in a way that allows our members to contribute to the work of the global umbrella is closest to my heart. We are an organization, a global social movement really, with great diversity of members, skills, experiences and expectations.
Knowing that our members are on their toes and up to date excites me more than the latest Star Wars movie. Everything in our work starts with supporting what our members do and want to achieve. VALD Ghana and IOGT Iceland are only two examples where we supported alcohol policy advocacy. In Iceland, IOGT works to protect the successful alcohol policy model that is under attack by Big Alcohol. In Ghana, we support our members in their advocacy for better alcohol control and to spearhead the Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance.
With ADIC Sri Lanka, Hope and Beyond Uganda and IOGT Germany we work on developing our treatment and rehabilitation work. Our self-help group and family clubs make help and counselling available to the most vulnerable people and also provide support and healing to the community in order to overcome addiction together.
In countries like Poland, Germany, Kenya or India, we are assisting our members with developing and implementing an innovative and evidence-based approach to prevention and health promotion.
Secret #3: Advocacy
Thanks to the efforts mentioned above – development of new approaches, strengthening our members, raising awareness among the broader population, we are highly credible partner in policy processes at United Nations level, especially with regard to the World Health Organisation and ECOSOC, including the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). We attended WHO’s Executive Board meeting in February. We took part in the World Health Assembly in May when the member states elected a new leader of WHO, Dr. Tedros and whom we had the pleasure to meet and discuss with in October.
We also joined WHO’s process of shaping their new General Program of Work. It was discussed at the Special Session of the Executive Board in November where we participated and of course contributed to the consultations about the program. In addition to WHO, we work with UNODC, UNDP, and we again held succesful side events together with national governments we collaborate with during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and the HLPF.
The highlight of the year for me would be the HLPF and our way to address alcohol as an obstacle to sustainable development. The HLPF is the platform for member states of the United Nations to review their work on the Agenda 2030. To make it easy for the decision makers, NGOs and everyone sincerely interested in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, we wrote an analysis and produced a booklet “Alcohol and the SDGs”. The booklet outlines the extent to which alcohol is an obstacle to development. It offers an analysis of the goals through the lens of alcohol-related harm.
Like this, we have come full circle: We started the year with EPIcc and mobilising the community for sustainable development. We have conducted a thorough analysis of alcohol as obstacle to development. Based on this analysis, we created material and used it for advocacy work by our members on local and naitonal levels and for our advocacy on global level. I must say I feel complete but definitely not done.
Thank you very much
Reflecting on this year makes me grateful for all the cooperation I have experienced with our members, our partners, colleagues and friends in other organisations, academic institutions, UN agencies and several governments.
I needed a moment to look back just to gear up and look forward to what is coming in 2018. Thanks to everyone who has given us their time and energy. We will do everything we can to build on this year’s successes, to make the next year even better!