RIOD publishes a report on the work that organizations in the addiction sector are doing to contribute to the 2030 Agenda
By María Victoria Espada – A preview of the “2030 Agenda: the impact of Covid-19 in Latin America, drugs and addictions” report was presented during the 23rd Latin American Seminar on Drugs and Cooperation, which the Ibero-American Network of NGOs Working in the field of Drugs and Addictions (RIOD, based on its Spanish name) organized in May and June 2021. Now published in full, the document seeks to put on the public agenda the work done by these organizations to help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals, and to recognize this work as a priority aspect of development.
Analysis of the implementation of the SDGs
The report offers an introduction about the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Spain, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico, based on various sources. Where Spain is concerned, the best results are seen in SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), while equal opportunities, progress towards a circular economy and a reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are identified as challenges. It is striking, as the report points out, that drug policies are absent from “Rebuilding the commons. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Spain. Progress Report 2020”, the first official report by the Government of Spain with data on the management of the pandemic.
Significant challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean
Where Argentina, Colombia and Mexico are concerned, the data point to the existence of significant challenges or very modest progress in meeting SDGs 3 and 16. The same is true of SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). Meanwhile, there is a clear stagnation in Argentina and Mexico, and a worrying decline in Colombia, when it comes to SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). In general, Latin American and Caribbean countries are characterized by showing signs of a generalized lapse in their implementation of the SDGs, thus moving away from the rate at which they should be progressing to meet the goals by 2030.
Impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable
Although the data mentioned predate the Covid-19 pandemic and do not capture its impacts, the RIOD report offers some forecasts, especially for the SDGs closely linked to the work of organizations in the field of drugs and addiction. For example, the report states that, “the effects on SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 4 (Quality Education)” will be devastating.
Furthermore, poverty will disproportionately impact already vulnerable groups, while hunger and food insecurity will increase due to the loss of income.
Lockdown periods will affect mental health and contribute to drug use and this will be combined with an increase in violence against women and girls. Moreover, pressure to increase access to health care will be severely constrained by a potential reduction in international remittances and cross-border financing, especially where the least developed countries are concerned.
Rethinking drug policies
The 2030 Agenda provides a useful post-pandemic framework for rethinking drug policies, redesigning indicators to better measure their impacts and bringing greater coherence to national sustainable development strategies. As detailed in the report, “the meeting of the SDGs will necessarily depend on the focus and attention given to drug policies.”
Given that drug use is linked to factors such as poverty, violence, lack of education and work, and the absence of the State, to name just a few, it is logical to give “greater weight to problematic drug use in public policies” and to see “drug policies as social policies that are crucial to meeting the SDGs“.
In turn, this more holistic point of view will make it easier for health policies to guarantee “the right of people with problematic use to access adequate treatment and resources“, which is a particularly important challenge in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Expanding civil society’s decision-making capacity
Without a doubt, the work done by civil society associations to guarantee more participatory policy-making processes has been crucial so far. However, the report concludes that there is a need to forge new partnerships between civil society, institutions and the private sector, taking advantage of the opportunities created by the 2030 Agenda and SDG 17.
These new “more inclusive and horizontal” partnerships will reinforce the political advocacy work needed to incorporate more social points of view on drugs and addictions and the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, the new alliances will enable “civil society to expand its decision-making capacity and not just strengthen its voice” and for drug policies to be placed at the centre of development strategies.
We at Dianova would like to thank the RIOD for the publication of this report, which enables the work of the organisations who work in the field of drugs and addictions to be aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, making the achievements visible, identifying the challenges and, above all, seeking greater scope for dialogue and cooperation between the different development actors.