European Development Days 2021: Discussing the Intersection of Tobacco Control, the Environment, and Sustainability

Monday, 05 July 2021

The following article is authored by the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) and was originally published on the FCA website. The article was produced following the European Development Days (EDD) 2021 where FCA and SFP co-organised a session titled 'Harnessing tobacco control’s contributions to a greener economy'.


The fully digital 2021 European Development Days (EDD) took place this past week from June 15-16. Themed “The Green Deal for a Sustainable Future,” sessions at EDD 2021 focused on building back greener after the COVID-19 pandemic. With 17 sub-topics to choose from, EDD 2021 brought organisations together from across the development community to share and learn about pressing issues related to climate change.

FCA and the Smoke Free Partnership co-hosted a virtual brainstorming discussion lab on harnessing tobacco control’s contributions to a greener economy. This interactive brainstorming session presented the opportunity for a productive discussion about tobacco control with a group of engaged participants.

Sara Rose Taylor, the Principal Researcher and Policy Analyst at FCA, kicked off the session with a presentation about the relationship between tobacco control, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), and the sustainable development agenda. This presentation stressed the importance of the WHO FCTC in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Next, the Coordinator at Belgian Alliance for a Smoke Free Society, Danielle van Kalmthout, presented on the environmental aspects of tobacco control. This presentation highlighted the dangerous impact that tobacco has on the environment at every step of both production and use.

The final presentation was given by Claire Clément, Policy Officer at Smoke Free Partnership, who focused on the burden of tobacco products on the environment. This presentation raised thought-provoking questions about how we could possibly offset the externalities of tobacco products.

Following these instructive presentations, the lab opened up to a brainstorming session. Participants debated what it means to have a sustainable livelihood, specifically regarding agriculture. The discussion took the route of discussing alternatives to tobacco cultivation, how to minimize contribution to climate change, ways to promote ethical labor, improving health outcomes, and more.

Next, the brainstorming session went over potential arguments for finding alternative liveilhoods to tobacco production. The goal of this exercise was to keep sustainability as the core focus. Although many productive solutions were brought to the table, some of the most notable takeaways from this discussion were having national governments invest in sustainable programs, providing training and subsidies to farmers to encourage them to consider long-term alternatives to tobacco, and holding tobacco companies liable for violating human rights and harming the environment.

Although all of the arguments proposed would have the positive impact of mitigating the problem at hand, pathways to implementation are another conversation entirely. Therefore, the participants in the brainstorming lab deliberated ways that the tobacco control community and sustainable development community can work together to advance the arguments listed. Many of the ideas focused on using events, such as European Development Days, to further the discussion about tobacco control alongside sustainability in order to promote interconnectivity across groups.

The success of the EDD 2021 brainstorming lab “Harnessing tobacco control’s contributions to a greener economy, how can we accelerate progress?” is encouraging for both FCA and its member organisations by helping to highlight the important and multifaceted connection between tobacco control and sustainability. Keeping this connection in mind is crucial when looking at ways the world can build back greener following the COVID-19 pandemic, and FCA looks forward to continuing to support work to ensure tobacco control is not left out of this ongoing conversation.


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