The Nordic and Baltic region has been an exciting laboratory for everyone interested in alcohol research and policy. With Nordic countries, we have a long and effective experience with WHO recommended alcohol policies and with that one of the lowest alcohol consumption and harm rates in Europe. Baltic countries, understanding the different situation they are coming from, has had one of the highest consumption rates in Europe and thus also in the world and has also struggled with introducing actual alcohol strategies. Within the last few years, a significant change has taken place, and Lithuania and Estonia have adopted new regulations that are now showing the way to rest of Europe. Latvia is also planning further changes that include stronger alcohol advertising limits etc.
Various developments push and pull our countries between the interests of public health and different economic benefits. Take a look at our latest "What has happened since" report which shows the policy process in different countries. Again, both positive and some troubling news.
The NordAN network has focused on 2020 for some years already. Why? Because the WHO Europe's alcohol action plan ends and next steps should be made already. The same situation is on the global level as well. This February, the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board adopted a resolution on Accelerating action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Director-General was requested to create an action plan for 2022-2030 to implement a Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. Nothing concrete, but at least there is a plan. And acceleration.
But as we have seen in our region. These international agreements and papers can, at best help. Local and national political will is what makes a significant difference.