Grass-roots organizations essential for creating healthy societies, says Executive Director

Photo: UNODCFrançais / French

25 March 2011 - Enlisting the support of activists who represent the full spectrum of opinion on drug-related issues, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has stressed the importance of community and grass-roots initiatives in preventing drug abuse.

"Drug control is not all about governments and law enforcement; it is also about families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors. Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable", he said. Listening to the groups' concerns, Mr. Fedotov said that community-level action must be stepped up. "Think globally, act locally", he urged.

Mr Fedotov said that he welcomed dialogue with all parties, including those who assert differences of opinion. However, he stressed: "Let us not argue on the key issue - there are people who need treatment."

He praised those who quietly went about their work away from the media spotlight: "You are the unsung heroes of society. Sometimes all a person needs is a chance and a helping hand. Your support and encouragement can make a profound difference to people in despair", he said.

He added that cooperation of that kind could facilitate a valuable exchange of ideas and experiences. UNODC is developing evidence-based family skills training, drug education that builds life skills and self-esteem in order to prevent substance abuse among children and teenagers and programmes to address substance abuse in the workplace.

"Together, we can work towards effective community problem-solving strategies, teaching those communities how to assess their local substance abuse-related problems and develop a comprehensive plan to address them. We need to know what makes some people vulnerable to addiction", said Mr. Fedotov.  "So I intend to broaden consultation with all members of society - from policymakers to homemakers."