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2021 in Review – Advocacy – A Year of Big Wins

Published: 23.11.2021
Advocacy team - IAPB IAPB
Times Square Billboard

What a year!

Throughout 2021, we worked with our members to elevate the issue of eye health on the global stage – setting new targets, building cross-sector partnerships, and cementing our place in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

We championed the adoption of two ambitious global targets

WHOIn April, Ministers of Health agreed two new global targets for 2030 at the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA). The targets address the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment, refractive error, and cataract, which account for 80% of the unmet need in eye care. This was a crucially important milestone for eye health as it provides a vital mechanism to monitor global progress on eye health and to hold governments to account.

Since the adoption of the WHA resolution on IPEC in 2020, we had been lobbying and campaigning towards the agreement of these ambitious targets by speaking at WHO meetings, writing letters to Health Ministries, holding side events and meeting health officials.

We led a successful advocacy campaign for the first United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Vision

UNUnanimously passed by all 194 UN countries and with 115 co-sponsors – the resolution Vision for Everyone – Accelerating Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is the first agreement designed to tackle preventable sight loss to be adopted by the United Nations.

The resolution ties eye health to the Sustainable Development Goals and calls on the international community to help the 1.1 billion people who currently do not have access to eye care by 2030. It also creates new expectations for United Nations institutions, such as UNICEF and UN-Women, as well as international financial institutions.

We worked tirelessly with members to achieve this landmark resolution, playing a key role in its development and in the negotiations. We also shared this story with the world – from a billboard in Times Square to its coverage in over 500 media outlets.

We built cross-sector partnerships for advocacy

Eye health is a cross-cutting issue with important implications for health, development, the economy, education, inclusion and more. We need to advocate for a holistic, integrated approach to eye health – which we cannot do alone.

Over the last year we have been strengthening our advocacy collaboration with new and existing partners. This has included partnering with IFA, GCOA and ECOO to develop joint advocacy briefs on vision and ageing; bringing new voices to our sector through initiatives like Advocacy to Action; and engaging in some early but very positive discussions with the International Labour Organisation and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on the importance of eye health for the workplace. We know we need to more of this and branch out event further as move into 2022.

2021 was a big year for the IAPB advocacy agenda. We need to make the most of this momentum. Please do get in touch with us if you are interested in how, you can get involved in our advocacy work.