People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
Just days after the United Nations General Assembly included tobacco control in the world’s new sustainable development agenda, officials from several governments rolled up their sleeves and embarked on international cooperation for tobacco control at a meeting in Uruguay.
International cooperation concepts and objectives have been discussed repeatedly at past sessions of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), but this meeting was much different. In small groups, participants shared their experiences of turning FCTC commitments into action in their countries, and identified ways to support each other.
For example, the government of the Philippines described its work that led to a substantial increase in tobacco taxes while Brazil shared its experiences promoting alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers. Such insights sparked further discussions and resulted in agreements between various governments to continue a dialogue. On several occasions, specific activities and follow-up meetings were agreed.
Knowledge hubs participate
Representatives from six knowledge hubs established under the FCTC also participated, describing their work and contributing to the outcomes of the three days of discussions.
Since the key theme of the meeting was South-South cooperation, governments from low- and middle-income countries were particularly encouraged to engage in activities and share success stories on FCTC implementation. Some of the agreed projects also incorporated ‘triangular’ cooperation, meaning they included support from the UN Development Programme, WHO, governments from developed countries, knowledge hubs or civil society.
Experiences from projects based on South-South and triangular cooperation should be particularly useful for the FCTC working group set up to examine sustainable measures to strengthen implementation of the Convention.
At the last COP session, the working group was tasked to review how support for FCTC implementation can be accessed and whether the existing opportunities are sufficient. The working group is set to meet once before submitting its report to COP7 in 2016.