Advocacy work has to be practical

NordAN Riga conference set out a goal to be more practical as it was asked by the participants from last time. Another topic that NordAN member organizations asked for was drug policy and we have worked in 2014 to return also to drug issues.

It is a challenge to make a conference more practical. Under the title “Advocacy in action” we looked into several areas searching for new information, ideas and advice. From conference feedback it looks clearly that the first plenary reached that goal. Three international speakers addressed the industry lobby and vested interests matters, sharing concrete recommendations how to monitor industry’s activities in order to safeguard public health interests.

Second plenary with practical examples from our member organizations and workshops gave our members a chance to share their work and experience. One workshop, dealing with cannabis, received special interest and created some active discussion.

As October 11 was also the TTIP Action Day, we asked our key note speakers to address these international treaty talks from their point of view as well and our Finnish member organizations prepared and introduced a special material explaining the connection between TTIP and public health policies.

As always, with one of the plenaries we focused on the situation of the hosting country, this time – Latvia. One presentation introduced a web-based drug education tool in the school setting, another practical example how one of our member countries tackles the drug issue.

NordAN´s General Assembly decided to join the global Drug Policy Futures platform which is also another step for NordAN to increase the level of activities concerning drug policy work. DPF principles were introduced to the conference and participating organisations invited to join the platform as well.

One of the busiest part of the NordAN cooperation, women’s section, spoke about their new actions on women´s rights in alcohol and drug policy issues. Unfortunately it is still evident, and important for many to understand, that women are still especially vulnerable when it comes to addiction and targeted marketing efforts. Women´s section continues and increases its work inside the NordAN network.

One of the highlights of the Riga conference was the presentation about IATA´s (International Air Transport Association) resolution regarding unruly air passenger behaviour. Presence of IATA Associate Director helped to take this ongoing matter to another level and even though we don’t agree on many aspects there is a hope for future cooperation between IATA and NordAN.

Another step was taken regarding alcohol advertising when a draft document for NordAN´s position paper on that matter was introduced. The paper will be circulated to member organisations for comments and possible improvements.

From the organizers point of view we did manage to make the conference a bit more practical and hopefully we can stay on that course when we plan the next conference in Helsinki.


Lauri Beekmann is Secretary General of NordAN