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Feb 16 '22, 2:30 PM - 3:45 PM

Alcohol Taxation – The Untapped Potential for COVID-19 Recovery and Sustainable Development


Movendi International, Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)


February 16, 2022


2.30 – 3.45 PM (CET)


Zoom platform

Language & interpretation

English, interpretation into Spanish will be available


Please register here.



This innovative CSocD60 side event seeks to discuss the lessons learned from experts in tobacco taxation policy to outline the vast untapped potential of alcohol taxation. This groundbreaking side event will explore state of the art evidence for the feasibility and efficacy of alcohol taxation. And it will provide unique and compelling analysis of alcohol as obstacle to the SDGs, and how alcohol taxation facilitates achievement of SDGs such as poverty and hunger eradication, and health system strengthening. This side event will also discuss the opportunities and challenges – in different parts and countries of the world – of developing and implementing evidence-based alcohol taxes.

Alcohol is a major obstacle to development, adversely affecting 14 of 17 SDGs and all aspects of sustainable development. Therefore, SDG 3.5 addresses the need for prevention and treatment and recovery interventions to tackle alcohol harm and foster well-being and development for all. 

Three facts about alcohol’s development burden stand out: 

  1. Every ten second a human being dies due to alcohol, adding up to 3 million deaths every year. 
  2. Marginalized and socio-economically poorer people and communities are disproportionately affected by alcohol; for instance, alcohol is the largest risk factor for disease burden in the age group 25-49 years. 
  3. Evidence also shows the lethal interaction between alcohol and the coronavirus pandemic, where alcohol weakens people’s immune systems as well as societies’ health systems – driving the spread of COVID-19 and hampering recovery. 

These three facts illustrate the mortality and morbidity burden caused by alcohol, the impact of alcohol on younger, poorer, and socio-economically disadvantaged people and the urgent need to tackle alcohol harm as a key obstacle to recovery from COVID-19. 

But a triple win solution is available, is well proven scientifically, and is increasingly sought after by countries around the world: evidence-based, public health oriented, alcohol excise taxation. 


The purpose of this event is to promote a fresh approach, highlight innovative initiatives, and share compelling new evidence about the triple win potential of alcohol taxation for COVID-19 recovery, poverty and hunger eradication, and achieving the SDGs.

Program and speakers

Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International will open the event, set the scene and moderate:

  • Setting the scene: Alcohol as obstacle to the SDGs – with focus on SDGs 1, 2, and 3
Dr. Maristela Monteiro 


Prof. Jürgen Rehm

Pan-American Health Organization


Alcohol Signature Initiative of the WHO/Europe NCD Advisory Council

Alcohol Taxes in Latin America and the Caribbean: challenges and opportunities


Impact of Introducing a Minimum Alcohol Tax Share in Retail Prices on Alcohol-Attributable Mortality in the WHO European Region

Dr. Supreda Adulyanon Thai Health Promotion Foundation How Thailand uses alcohol and tobacco taxation to achieve the SDGs
Dr. Rohan Ratnayake Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka The need for alcohol policy to drive development
Mr. Pubudu Sumanasekara Center for Alcohol Policy Solutions The triangle that moves the mountain: how civil society supports the development of alcohol taxation in Sri Lanka
Dr. Evan Blecher  World Health Organization State of the art evidence for and potential of alcohol taxation
Dr. Sheila Dutta World Bank Using alcohol taxes to support public health and fiscal resilience in a pandemic context

Download the program

You can download the event flyer and program (PDF) here.

About the speakers

Kristina Sperkova holds a master degree in psychology from Comenius University in Slovakia. She has been active in the field of substance use prevention within civil society for 20 years starting in a peer program in her hometown community. Later on Kristina engaged in prevention work on European level and served as a Secretary-General of a European Youth Organization. From 2012 onwards, Kristina worked for a Swedish development NGO, supporting development aid partnerships in Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Balkan countries. She worked as a Programme manager, Strategic coordinator and subsequently as Junior Advisor with questions relating to alcohol as obstacle to development. Kristina has been member of the International Board of Movendi International since 2006, first as International Vice President and since October 2014 as International President.

Dr Maristela G. Monteiro is the senior advisor on alcohol at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington DC for 18 years, after nearly 10 years coordinating the Program on Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization in Geneva.  Dr Monteiro is a medical doctor with a PhD in Psychopharmacology from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil, and postdoctoral studies at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Dr Monteiro is responsible for technical cooperation activities with Ministries of Health, Universities, Research Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, and Collaborating Centers of PAHO/WHO on topics related to alcohol policy, research and capacity building in all countries in the Region of the Americas. Dr Monteiro has nearly 190 publications in scientific journals and book chapters.

Dr. Jürgen Rehm is Senior Scientist in the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH. He is Professor and Inaugural Chair of Addiction Policy in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Dr. Rehm is a leader in generating and analyzing the scientific data needed to inform clinicians and policy-makers of strategies to reduce alcohol-, tobacco-, and other drug-related harm. His recent research has more and more included interactions between socio-economic status, poverty and substance use, including analysis of policies and interventions with respect to reducing or increasing inequalities. His work has been awarded with numerous awards and prizes, most importantly, the Jellinek Memorial Award (2003) and the European Addiction Research Award (2017).

Dr. Supreda Adulyanon is one of the leading experts in innovative health financing and health promotion movement in Thailand and Asia. He is well known internationally for his work on supporting countries on sustainable health financing mechanism, and on addressing major health risks control for NCDs in Thailand, such as tobacco and alcohol. Since 2016, he has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), the forefront national agency which catalyzes, motivates, supports, and coordinates health promotion movement in Thailand to over 20,000 multi-sectoral partner organizations in Thailand and abroad since 2001. Prior to joining ThaiHealth, he was a lecturer and senior administrator at the Faculty of Dentistry, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, Thailand. At ThaiHealth, he previously served as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and its Director of the Major Risk Factors Control Section for 10 years, overseeing Tobacco Control Plan, Alcohol Control Plan and Road Traffic Accident Prevention Plan. He was instrumental in coordinating multisectoral movements to reduce those major risk factors. He has written and published numerous articles about health promotion and innovative health financing. Dr.Supreda received his bachelor degree in doctor of dental surgery (DDS) from Mahidol University in Thailand and PhD. in epidemiology and public health from the University of London in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Rohan Ratnayake is the Director of the Mental Health in the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka. The Directorate of Mental Health was established in year 1998 and over the years it has strengthened its organizational structure, linkages and capacity to cater the needs of the country. It has played a key role in expanding Mental Health services throughout the country. Mental ill-health and Psychiatric  disorders are one of the most significant public health challenges in the world. The burden of mental disorders continues to grow with significant impacts on health, social, human rights and economy.

Evan Blecher, M.A., Ph.D. is an Economist in the Fiscal Policies for Health team at the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He previously led tobacco tax efforts in the African region in the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases department. Prior appointments include the University of Illinois at Chicago where he was a Senior Economist at Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy. Between 2008 and 2013, he was a Senior Economist in the Health and Economic Policy Research Program at the American Cancer Society and an Affiliate in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit at the University of Cape Town where he served as the Project Director of the Economics of Tobacco Control Project. He is also an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Economics, University of Cape Town. He received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Strategy from the University of Cape Town, an M.A. in Economics with Distinction from the University of the West of England, Bristol and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cape Town. He was a member of the expert group for the IARC Handbook on the Effectiveness of Tax and Price Policies for Tobacco Control and is a coauthor of the NCI Monograph on the Economics of Tobacco Control. Evan’s research focuses on tax policy and the influence of tax policies on health behaviors, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and covers issues including tax and price policy and illicit trade. His research has been an influence on policy globally, providing expert input to parliamentary committees and international forums in several countries.

Dr. Sheila Dutta is a Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank. She has worked extensively in managing health programs and analytic work in East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Africa over the past 25 years at the World Bank.  Her experience has included managing health sector programs as diverse as  COVID-19, Ebola, refugee health, NCD prevention, health taxes, and primary health care reform. Her academic training is in epidemiology and maternal and child health (PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; MPH, Yale School of Public Health), with a specialization in chronic disease epidemiology.

Pubudu Sumanasekara is the Executive Director of the Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) Sri Lanka, which is an internationally recognized resource center for alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention interventions and policies. He had been working for UNODC as a volunteer specialist. Pubudu holds a Master’s Degree in Health Promotion from studies in Canada as well as a degree in Psychiatric and Medical Social Work in India. Pubudu is a visiting lecturer at the University of Colombo and University of Rajarata in Sri Lanka. Pubudu is a member of the expert committee of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), the Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention and the Drug Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka. Pubudu serves as the International Vice President of Movendi International.

60th Session of the Commission for Social Development – CSocD60

The 60th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD60) will take place largely online from 7 to 16 February 2022  at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development.

Priority Theme

Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all:  eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Emerging Issue

National policies and measures implemented by Member States to combat hunger and poverty in times of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Challenges to get on track towards the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

  1. Outcome document of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities: the way forward, a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond
  2. World Programme of Action for Youth
  3. Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002; (iv) Family issues, policies and programmes

Side Events


Movendi International
View Organizer Website