Secretary-General António Guterres
UN Headquarters, S-3800
New York, NY 10017
Appointment of a Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Vision
We write as [number] civil society and private sector organizations, professional bodies, academic and research institutions, eye hospitals and the medical community, to call for the appointment of a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Vision.
The universal adoption of General Assembly Resolution 75/310 ‘Vision for Everyone: accelerating action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was a landmark moment for eye health. We were heartened to see this widespread global recognition of eye health and its potential to advance the Sustainable Development Agenda. While the passing of the resolution is significant, it marks the beginning of our journey, not the end. Now we turn to implementation and ensuring its promise is fulfilled.
At least 1.1 billion people experience sight loss because they do not have access to the eye health services they need. Vision impairment remains shaped by geographic, social, and economic circumstance. 90% of avoidable sight loss is experienced by people living in low- and middle-income countries and it remains the case that the poorest and most marginalised groups in countries of all income levels – including women, children, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous peoples, local communities, refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants, are at greatest risk of losing their sight and being denied a sustainable, prosperous and equitable future. Resolution 75/310 made clear that no one should have to live with avoidable sight loss when solutions to address the problem exist.
Opportunities to spark generational-level change are rare. It requires the right global commitment, strong government and community support, a clear pathway forward, and the right leadership to guide the way. For vision, that moment has arrived. We strongly encourage you to appoint a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Vision to be the global champion and to support your office and the World Health Organization in achieving vision for everyone.
The Special Envoy on Vision will have the full support of the eye health sector behind them. With that support, they will help mobilise national action and political commitment, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the need is greatest; promote cross-sector partnerships; and help raise much-needed public awareness of vision and eye health, tackling issues such as the stigma that is often associated with sight loss.
Unaddressed vision impairment impedes a state’s ability to eradicate poverty and reduce the inequalities and vulnerabilities that leave people behind, undermining the potential for individual and shared progress. However, avoidable sight loss is a global issue that is realistically within our grasp to solve by 2030. With a Special Envoy on Vision guiding our efforts, the eye health sector stands ready to support member states to accelerate national progress on eye health and fulfill their central, transformative commitment of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind.”
We would like to conclude by extending our profound gratitude for your leadership on vision and eye health and your steadfast recognition of its potential to advance the Sustainable Development Agenda.