New campaign on science-based drug prevention launched at UN General Assembly Special Session

NEW YORK/VIENNA 19 April (UN Information Service) - The global 'Listen First' campaign on science-based drug prevention was launched at a high-level event during the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem in New York today.

Speakers at the event were Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, the President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan.

'Listen First' is promoted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), together with the World Health Organization (WHO), the French Interministerial Mission for Combating Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (MILDECA) and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs of Sweden.

In his remarks at the event, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov highlighted the need for prevention of substance abuse, which he said was "a key target under the Sustainable Development Goals". However, said Mr. Fedotov, despite good intentions, "drug prevention efforts too often consist of isolated initiatives to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs among young people and the general public".

Speaking about the 'Listen First' campaign, Mr. Fedotov said it seeks to build on the successes of these initiatives, and it also raises awareness of the fact that "drug use prevention based on science is an effective investment in the wellbeing of our children and youth, families and communities".

"At the core of science-based prevention is a very simple concept," said Mr. Fedotov. "Something we all know how to do, but perhaps spend too little time doing: listening."

Run under the theme 'Listen First', the campaign and a Public Service Announcement aim to raise awareness around listening to children and youth as the first step to help them grow healthy and safe. The campaign targets parents, teachers, policy makers, health workers and prevention workers and highlights how to recognize - and prevent - risky behaviours and drug use.

It is based on research that shows that through this kind of science-based approach, on average, 30 times the amount of funds invested in drug prevention can be saved in future health and social care costs. Content for and on individual target groups will be rolled out in the coming months, following today's launch.

The campaign website can be found at
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Valerie Prassl