© Photoshare: Occupational Therapist works with one of her patients.

Joint event on NCDs and sustainable development during ECOSOC HLPF

20th July 2016

The first ECOSOC High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development began Monday in New York, with roundtable discussions addressing the theme "Ensuring that no one is left behind."

These sessions continue throughout the week, with a detailed programme available here. The high-level Ministerial Segment of the HLPF took place from 18 - 20 July. 

NCDs and Sustainable Development: A Call for Integrated Implementation

On Tuesday 19 July, The Permanent Missions of the Caribbean Community to the UN (CARICOM) and the NCD Alliance convened an event in the margins of the ECOSOC High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on NCDs and Sustainable Development: A Call for Integrated Implementation. The event focused on interlinkages between non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and broader sustainable development priorities of the 2030 Agenda, and highlighted the need and opportunities for integrated, multisectoral and multistakeholder implementation. 
Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus, PAHO, moderated the event, opening with a statement that if we subscribe to the theory that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) fall under one of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – then we automatically accept that all 17 SDGs are interrelated. Achievement of one goal depends on achievement of all. The challenge, he said, is how to operationalize the concept of integrated implementation. 
H.E. Ambassador Eden Charles, Chargé d’Affaire a.i., Trinidad & Tobago, outlined the steps being taken in the CARICOM region to halt the growing burden of NCDs, including measures such as taxation of tobacco, concentrated alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, and foods high in fat, salt, and added sugars. He emphasised the importance of involving all sectors of government, including trade and finance, and stated that the NCD agenda is complementary to and not in competition with development priorities. Ambassador Charles stressed the opportunities for developing healthy behaviors and teaching risk management early, using the Caribbean Healthy Life program of public education and awareness as an example.
“What prospects for development exist in the absence of a healthy population?” - H.E. Ambassador Eden Charles, Chargé d’Affaire a.i., Trinidad & Tobago
Dr Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General, Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, WHO, highlighted how his own cluster exemplifies an integrated approach, as it includes disability, violence against women, and nutrition in addition to NCDs. This type of integration, he said, must be extended throughout the UN family and governments. Dr Chestnov stressed the need to mobilise the private sector, and to ensure that civil society is involved every step of the way in implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 
Following Dr Chestnov, Ms Jessica Faieta, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America & Caribbean, UNDP began her remarks by stating that development shapes health and health shapes development. NCDs are linked to patterns of trade, consumption, and unplanned urbanisation, necessitating an integrated approach if we are to address the growing burden of disease. She highlighted the need to work across sectors to tackle NCDs, and the win-win opportunities afforded by 2030 Agenda to do so. She also noted how the UNDG’s approach to SDG domestication, MAPS (Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support), can help governments see, plan for and act upon NCDs from the lens of poverty and inequity reduction, tax and revenue, climate action, and decent work and economic growth, to name just a few.
“The longer we wait [for advocacy], the harder and more expensive it’s going to be.” –Ms Jessica Faieta, UNDP
Finally, Dr Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, NCD Child, provided the civil society perspective, and called for integration within categorical NCDs that are often treated as siloed services. The SDGs, he said, are an opportunity to address adolescents, which is the time period when behaviours are formed that lead to many preventable NCDs. Civil society from different sectors, such as nutrition, maternal and child health, and tobacco control, must work together to deliver integrated, coherent programs. 

The event also launched a new resource produced by NCD Alliance to assist NCD advocates capitalise on the interlinkages between the different Sustainable Development Goals, and help governments identify how action on NCDs and health can have important effects on other sustainable development priorities and vice versa. Follow the links below to download the infographic.