"Technology has globalized communications. Now we have to globalize compassion and citizenship."
Ban Ki-moon. November 2013
Over the past years, UNODC and Vienna NGO Committee (VNGOC) on Drugs have actively cooperated to ensure the voice of civil society working on the world drug problem is reaching international policy makers. Following the recommendations from the final independent evaluation of the Beyond 2008, UNODC and VNGOC launched a joint project - "On the Road towards 2019: The Role of the Civil Society in Fostering Social Innovation". The project aims to enhance the overall cooperation between NGOs and Member States on drug related issues and to contribute to ensuring a balanced NGO participation in the international drug policy debate.
As one of the outputs of the above project, the NGO Marketplace is an innovative online global platform to assist the international community to find out and learn about NGOs working on drug related issues. It was launched on 18 April 2016 during the CSO forum that preceded the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) on the World Drug Problem, which took place in New York from 19 to 22 April 2016. Preparation for UNGASS witnessed great engagement from CSOs: some 800 NGOs participated through a global online survey, various regional and thematic consultations were held, and many events and meetings were conducted, which contributed to the UNGASS outcome document that acknowledges the role of civil society in addressing the world drug problem. In it, Member States recognized that "civil society, as well as the scientific community and academia, plays an important role in addressing and countering the world drug problem", and noted that "affected populations and representatives of civil society entities, where appropriate, should be enabled to play a participatory role in the formulation, implementation, and the providing of relevant scientific evidence in support of, as appropriate, the evaluation of drug control policies and programmes […]".
In order to ensure a comprehensive implementation of the UNGASS outcome document, Member States also committed to take necessary steps to implement the operational recommendations, in close partnership with the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations and civil society.
The NGO Marketplace: 1) allows Member States and other Stakeholders to find information about, and connect with, NGOs working on drug policy and providing drug related services to affected populations and 2) increases communication and networking of NGOs globally. UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Fedotov said that "the Marketplace […] will help to shed light on the work undertaken by civil society organizations and to support sharing of experience and expertise on drug-related issues."
Finally, the NGO Marketplace will help UNODC, Member States, and other stakeholders in the implementation of the UNGASS outcome document and shows how the work of NGOs is making an impact on the ground. The use of the platform is free of charge and it is open to all NGOs involved in drug related activities and providing drug related services to affected populations, including prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, alternative development, and access to controlled medicines.