Compassionate societies respect the human rights of their members. Respect for human rights is also a core principle of harm reduction, most often understood as a set of practices that reduce the negative consequences associated with drug use both for individuals and communities.

However, there are many other activities or behaviours where approaches that reduce harm and mitigate risk either are, or should be, applied. These include, for example, road safety, food safety, tobacco use, gambling and sex work. 

Misinformation and misguided beliefs about harm reduction often lead to moral and political opposition to its application in different areas of public policy. The consequences for communities, individuals and society as a whole can be extremely damaging, and lead to individual breaches of human rights.

This conference will examine why harm reduction is applied differently in different areas of human behaviour. We will discuss similarities and differences across the spectrum of harm reduction approaches. Together, we will identify the developments necessary to achieve a consistent, inclusive and compassionate set of harm reduction policies and practices.