The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

NCD Summit: encouraging outcomes

By FCA Director Laurent Huber

I had the privilege of attending the UN Summit this week, where I listened to heads of state and high-level government representatives make statements recognising the need for action on NCDs and their risk factors – many of which specified tobacco and the FCTC.

Again and again we heard that NCDs are a development issue that needs a multi-sector, whole of government approach.

The Summit’s Political Declaration gives us a foundation to build upon, and having tobacco control discussed on the floor of a UN High-level Meeting (HLM) is definitely a breakthrough for this FCA campaign and for creating political will for FCTC implementation.

Thank you to all FCAers who have responded to our calls to action during this campaign. This began with you expressing support for the decision to have a HLM, followed by advocating to influence the modalities resolution; ensuring that tobacco control messages were adopted at pre-Summit regional consultations; writing to convince heads of state to attend the event, and then lobbying your contacts to influence negotiations on the Political Declaration.

With your support we initiated the FCTC working group within the NCD Alliance, and developed the first of the NCDA’s briefing papers – on NCDs and tobacco – which became a model for subsequent papers. We carried that document and our messages to Moscow’s Ministerial Meeting, the World Health Assembly in Geneva, to Civil Society Hearings at the UN and finally, to this week’s Summit. FCA has campaigned during every step of the Summit process, using to great effect our contacts and organisation built up over years of efforts on the FCTC.

 The tobacco control ‘wins’ in the Summit’s Political Declaration are:

•    Accelerated implementation of the FCTC – (para 43c), although without mention of the treaty’s guidelines;
•    Recognition of the “fundamental conflict of interest” between the tobacco industry and public health (38);
•    Reference to tobacco taxation: “price and tax measures are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption” (43c), also inclusion of “fiscal measures” in chapeau of 38;
•    Tie-in to the development agenda: there is recognition of the key role of prevention; multiple mentions of NCDs’ impact on development, and an acknowledgement of insufficient resources (40, 41, 45d).

While there is no commitment of resources, it mentions the need to “promote all possible means to identify and mobilise adequate, predictable and sustained financial resources... and to consider support for voluntary, cost-effective, innovative approaches for a long-term financing of NCD prevention and control” (49) as well as a reference to the “continued inclusion of NCDs in development cooperation agendas and initiatives” (50) and a reference to national ownership etc. of aid priorities (53).

Among the things we didn’t achieve were specific goals, such as a percentage reduction in prevalence, and additional resources. However, the task of target setting has been delegated to a WHO-led process to be completed by the end of 2012. In addition, the Declaration states that target-setting is to include a “comprehensive global monitoring framework”. The Declaration also includes a review in 2014 of progress as well as the impact of NCDs on Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The lack of adequate resources is recognised in the Declaration and a commitment made to “Explore the provision of adequate, predictable and sustained resources, through domestic, bilateral, regional and multilateral channels, including traditional and voluntary innovative financing mechanisms” (45d).

What does all this mean for FCA? First, I believe that the Summit’s outcomes on tobacco control reveal the relevance of FCA as an alliance in much the same way that FCTC negotiations did 10 years ago. Second, in the opening session of the plenary of the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said about the Political Declaration, “if this is only a set of words, we will have failed”, but if it is followed by “actions, we will honour our responsibilities”.

It will be FCA’s role to ensure that governments live up to their commitments and honour their responsibilities. We need to maximise the outcomes of the Summit to accelerate progress toward our longer term goal of securing sustainable resources for implementation of the FCTC.

I am convinced that with strong, smart advocacy, we will succeed.

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