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  • Lauri Beekmann

Setting the stage: NordAN Tallinn Conference

01.10.2023 - As the autumn leaves begin their descent, the historic city of Tallinn welcomes an important gathering: the NordAN Conference. This event, enriched by insights from the Nordic and Baltic regions, emerges as a place for ideas, dialogues, and collaborative learning.

Understanding Estonia

Every conference location offers a unique lesson. In Estonia, we aim to explore the layers of its distinctive cultural and policy framework. However, presentations and reality might not always align, prompting us to delve deeper. The pre-day of the conference is an exploration focusing on Estonia's approaches to addiction, rehabilitation, and prevention.

The inaugural moments of the conference aim to fortify the spirit of cooperation in our region. We are privileged to be welcomed by key figures such as the Estonian Health Minister, Riina Sikkut; the Chairwoman of the Baltic Assembly, Dr. Karmen Joller; and the Norwegian Ambassador to Estonia, Mr. Marius Dirdal. Their presence reinforces the regional commitment to address the challenges ahead. Especially as Estonia currently holds the presidency of the Baltic Assembly and Norway the presidency of the Nordic Council.

Our journey into understanding Estonia continues with diverse presentations. These range from governmental strategies to grassroots initiatives by civil society, all joining on the theme of rehabilitation and addiction.

Expected lessons: The art of addressing huge challenges with limited resources.

Widening the view on the Baltics

The Baltic countries have charted significant progress in alcohol policy in recent times, drawing the attention of global researchers. Professor Jürgen Rehm, together with his colleagues, will shed light on their observations and findings. Their topics span from understanding the correlation between alcohol control policy and life expectancy to the nuances of sustaining the positive momentum in alcohol control.

Questions to Contemplate:

  • How can we maintain the Baltic momentum?

  • Does cross-border trade pose a risk to national policies?

  • What lessons do the Baltic developments offer to the broader European landscape?

Drug policy perspective

A dedicated plenary on narcotic drugs promises a deep dive into recovery mechanics. We will explore the foundational principles underpinning national drug policies and as Germany's cannabis legalisation journey has been on our radar, updates on its current status and looming challenges will be highlighted.

A Challenge to Address:

  • In which direction should our countries steer their drug policies?

  • How do we navigate the potential pitfalls of increased liberalisation?

Home and school

Prevention is a cornerstone of our discussions, with home and school environments playing key roles. Sessions will delve into actively engaging parents in prevention and integrating digital tools in school-based prevention programs.

A challenge to address:

  • How can prevention strategies be fine-tuned for a more significant impact?

  • Do contemporary challenges mandate a rethinking of prevention methodologies?

The final plenary: envisioning the path ahead

The concluding plenary delves into the complexities of alcohol and drug policies, reflecting on established systems and envisioning the future.

The Finnish retail monopoly, Alko, is a beacon of effective alcohol control. However, it now faces challenges from certain political factions and vested interests. The broader Northern Dimension region grapples with the complexities of alcohol and tobacco control, often likened to a 'David versus Goliath' struggle.

The discourse further encompasses the aspirations for a cohesive, evidence-based drug policy in the Nordic realm. Comprehensive studies offer insights into the alcohol-related disease burden, while initiatives like the EVID-ACTION project set the stage for informed policy-making.

Key points to reflect upon:

  1. Navigating the challenges posed to established systems like Alko by external interests.

  2. Strengthening alcohol and tobacco control policies in the face of formidable challenges in the Northern Dimension region.

  3. Charting the course for a robust, evidence-based drug policy across the Nordic and Baltic landscapes.

In Conclusion

As the curtains draw on the NordAN Tallinn Conference, we hope to leave you enriched, informed, and inspired. Through shared experiences, challenges, and insights from the Nordic and Baltic regions, we're reminded of the collective responsibility and potential we hold. The path ahead may be complicated, but armed with evidence, collaboration, and determination, we are focused on policies prioritising our communities' well-being.

Visit the conference website HERE

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