An interim report was released by the United Nations (UN) in the context of the Secretary General’s UN75 initiative, commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the UN. The report conveys findings from a global consultation. It highlights unified concerns of people from around the world about pandemic recovery and access to basic services.

The UN75 initiative called “The Future We Want, The UN We Need” is a global consultation marking the 75th anniversary of the UN. Since January 2020, over one million respondents participated in this consultation, covering all UN Member States and Observer States.

Following are some key results of the report released by the UN:

  • The immediate priority of most respondents everywhere, with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, is improved access to basic services including health care, safe water and sanitation, and education;
  • The next main priority is to send greater support to the places hardest hit by the pandemic to address poverty, inequalities, and unemployment;
  • Respondents believe health, education, and women’s rights will improve in the immediate future;
  • However, most participants in all regions are worried about climate change and the destruction of the natural environment: this is respondents’ “most overwhelming medium- and long-term concern;”
  • The UN is essential for tackling global challenges, according to 74% of respondents, and it is perceived to be contributing most in the areas of upholding human rights and promoting peace;
  • Participants overwhelmingly called for the UN to be “more inclusive of the diversity of actors in the 21st century,” including civil society, women, youth, vulnerable groups, cities and local authorities, businesses, regional organizations, and other international organizations; and
  • The UN should also be more innovative, according to participants, including with “stronger leadership and more consistency in exercising its moral authority.”

There is a significant contribution that alcohol policy can make towards addressing the above unified concerns of people revealed in the UN survey. As Movendi International analysis shows, alcohol harm is an obstacle to 14 of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). As such preventinf and reducing alcohol harm (itself included in the SDGs) will help to improve access to basic services including, health care, safe water and sanitation, and education. Tackling the alcohol burden also catalyzes progress in other areas of concern, such as poverty reduction, addressing inequality, unemployment, climate action and human rights. This potential in alcohol policy for the SDGs is especially important in the recovery from COVID-19 and efforts to build back better. Movendi International has reported how several countries have used alcohol policy solutions effectively to reduce the COVID-19 burden.

An obstacle of alcohol to SDGs which generally goes unnoticed is its effect to climate change and environmental destruction – one of the highlighted concerns in the UN75 interim report.

For example,

  • The yearly amount of Australian beer consumption is equal in emissions to a car driving 1.94 billion km – the equivalent of 48,000 car rides around the world.
  • Emissions related to beer production and consumption cause the biggest damage to the climate when compared to other beverages such as coffee or tea.
  • The contribution made by the alcohol consumed in the UK accounts for 1.46% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Considering the severe impediment of alcohol harm for SDGs, and its links to the concerns brought up by people around the world in the interim UN75 report, it is important that the UN gives alcohol policy the priority it deserves.

The consultation will continue till the end of 2020. The final report will be released in early 2021 and will inform the Secretary-General’s recommendations to UN Member States for revitalizing and reimagining the UN to better tackle today’s challenges and serve future generations.

Source Website: IISD SGD Knowledge Hub