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ESMO Submits Amendments to the UN Zero Draft for the Pact for the Future

ESMO calls for a holistic approach to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda with health and cancer care at its centre
14 Feb 2024

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has recently submitted extensive feedback and proposed language amendments to the United Nations (UN) Zero Draft for the Pact for the Future. ESMO’s advocacy is particularly crucial as the proposed document lacks sufficient emphasis on health, prompting the need for linguistic changes and closer alignment across Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UN Zero Draft for the Pact for the Future, introduced by co-facilitators Namibia and Germany, represents a pivotal opportunity to address global challenges comprehensively. However, the draft’s limited focus on health underscores the necessity for substantive changes to ensure that health-related targets such as ‘Universal Health Coverage’ (SDG 3.8.) and 'Reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases’ (SDG 3.4.) are fully integrated into broader development agenda – notably with the SDG 8 (Decent work), SDG 12 (Climate action) and SDG 16 linked to international peace. ESMO’s proposed amendments therefore aim to align the Zero Draft with the SDGs targets to promote a holistic approach to sustainable development with health at its centre.

ESMO’s feedback on:

  • Chapter I – Sustainable Development and Financing for Development: Underscores the urgent need to prioritise cancer prevention and care within health systems. By advocating for linguistic changes to reflect the interconnected nature of SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) with SDG 8 (Decent Work) and SDG 13 (Climate action), ESMO aims to strengthen the draft provisions on health.
  • Chapter II – International Peace and Security: Highlights the critical role of healthcare in sustaining peace and preventing conflicts. In particular, ESMO emphasises the importance of integrating the ‘health and peace’ approach within the UN international peace and security framework, underscoring the need to safeguard healthcare workers (including oncology workforce) and patients in conflict zones.

As the UN prepares for the Summit of the Future in September 2024, ESMO calls for continued collaboration and dialogue to address the multifaceted challenges facing the world today. This can be further facilitated by ESMO’s ‘Special Consultative Status’ with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is the highest recognition granted by the United Nations to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like ESMO, allowing them to participate in UN meetings and make official statements that are delivered to all Member States.

Combined with the official relations status with WHO, the special consultation status with ECOSOC gives ESMO a clear voice to influence public health policies and the highest political levels. ESMO remains committed to advocating for evidence-based policies that prioritise patient outcomes and global health equity.

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