As we look towards the start of a new year, rising conflict, pandemic recovery, irreversible climate change, and eroding collaboration in the global economy threaten to undermine the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other efforts to advance human progress. Advocating for the prioritization of global eye health within this volatile and unpredictable context will prove challenging.
Nevertheless, the 2023 global policy landscape is shaping up to be a big year for health as well as a critical period of review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This presents opportunities for the eye sector to increase political focus and commitment on eye health and further embed vision as a fundamental economic, social and development issue.
2023 will see the High-Level Event on Universal Health Coverage, designed to assess progress on the 2019 Political Declaration, which included a commitment to ‘strengthen efforts to address eye health’. This presents an opportunity for the eye care sector to influence negotiations and strengthen language on eye health in the 2nd Political Declaration that will be adopted in September. Health is set to be a key focus at the United Nations next year with high-level discussions and negotiations on Pandemic Preparedness as well as the Social Determinants of Health.
The SDG Summit, a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the General Assembly, will mark the mid-point review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This Summit will be attended by Heads of State and is a critical opportunity to elevate the role of eye health within the SDGs and build momentum for the inclusion or eye health in the 2045 development agenda. The Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) will provide the key mechanism to comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the SDGs. Countries need to fulfill their obligations in the UN Resolution Vision for Everyone and report on their progress on eye health as part of their VNRs.
Achieving meaningful policy advocacy objectives in 2023 will require significant, ongoing engagement with Member States, UN agencies and international institutions. Careful strategic prioritization will be required, and it cannot be done alone. Our sector’s most recent achievements have been the result of collective advocacy efforts formed by influential coalitions. Together, we will continue to elevate the global conversation on vision, as well as maintain high-level political action and investment in eye health.
Image on top: Fishermen sleeping on boats/Muhammad Amdad Hossain