Beyond prohibition: Unpacking the connection between drug policies and sustainable development priorities

Ales Krivec / Unsplash


Beyond prohibition: Unpacking the connection between drug policies and sustainable development priorities

12 September 2023
Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Open Society Foundations (OSF)

Beyond Prohibition: Unpacking the Connection between Drug Policies and Sustainable Development Priorities

Side event on the margins of the 2023 SDG Summit, 19 September 2023, 6:30-7:30 PM, UN Conference Building, Conference Room 7

The Permanent Missions of Brazil and Colombia to the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme and Open Society Foundations are co-organizing a side event entitled "Beyond Prohibition: Unpacking the Connection between Drug Policies and Sustainable Development Priorities” in conjunction with the 2023 SDG Summit. The event aims to raise awareness about the intricate relationship between drug policies and development, inform policymakers, and showcase exemplary practices. Attendees will include representatives of UN Member States, UN entities, civil society, academics, donors, and the media. Tentatively, our program will include the following speakers:

  • Kasia Malinowska, Director, Drug Policy, Open Society Foundations
  • Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV and Health Group, UNDP
  • Arlene Tickner, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN
  • Marta Machado, National Secretary for Drug Policy of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, Brazil
  • Helen Clark, Commissioner, Global Commission on Drug Policy
  • Ilze Brands Kehris Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Head, OHCHR Office in New York


The 2023 World Drug Report identifies a recognized link between drug cultivation and transit with deforestation, illegal logging, and illegal mining operations in the Amazon region, covering Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. Recognizing there are many drivers contributing to these dynamics, the report fails to consider the gaps and problems of current drug policies which create significant incentives for such activities, particularly in areas of conflict, poverty and economic disadvantage. Without a major reframing of the "world drug problem" which centers sustainable development priorities alongside drug policy dynamics, there is a risk of falling short of achieving the 2030 Agenda.

The UNGASS 2016 Outcome Document emphasizes the complementary and mutually reinforcing nature of efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and effectively address the world drug problem. In November 2018, the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) adopted the “United Nations System Common Position supporting the implementation of the international drug control policy through effective inter-agency collaboration.” The Common Position calls for evidence-informed, rights-based, health-centered and more effective drug control policies. However, the proposed comprehensive zero draft of the Political Declaration to be adopted at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in September 2023 does not currently mention the issue at hand. Without a robust, sustainable development-led approach to drug policy, drug control efforts are likely to impede progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and leaving no one behind.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes are increased awareness of policymakers on the relationship between drug policies and development priorities and familiarity with global good practices. The event will contribute to improving alignment of national drug control mechanisms with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The proposed event will also contribute to better informed national development plans and strategies that effectively address the “world drug problem,” while achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information please contact: Boyan Konstantinov, Policy Specialist, UNDP HIV and Health Team (

Nabina Panday, Programme Officer, Open Society Foundations (