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Advocacy at the United Nations

Influencing global policies, development strategies and funding allocations

Home > Global Advocacy > Advocacy at the United Nations

Leveraging our Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the UN

Through our official Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the United Nations (UN), the World Heart Federation is able to attend global meetings convened by the UN, such as discussions around the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN High-Level Meetings on NCDs and UHC.

The WHF uses this strategic position to advocate to governments for the inclusion of stronger legislation and policies around cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the national, regional, and global levels.

UN High-Level Meetings

The High-Level Meetings on NCDs and UHC convened by the UN are a series of meetings that have been held since 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The HLMs are attended by heads of state and government, ministers of health, civil society representatives and many other stakeholders. These meetings have kept NCDs and CVD as priorities on the global health agenda and offer a forum for countries to report on and measure progress towards ambitious global health targets.

2011 HLM and Political Declaration

In 2009 the World Heart Federation, along with the NCD Alliance and other civil society organizations, campaigned successfully for a United Nations (UN) High-Level Meeting (HLM) on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). The HLM was the first time that heads of state and ministers outside the health sector came together to consider the global NCD epidemic.

This meeting took place on 19 September 2011, where the UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases was agreed upon by world leaders. This represented a landmark achievement, bringing NCDs and CVD to the global stage and establishing them as part of the global development agenda.

The following year, at the 65th World Health Assembly in 2012, all 194 WHO Member States endorsed an historic target to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by 25% by 2025 (“25by25”).

2014 HLM and 4 time-bound targets

A second High-level Meeting was convened in New York City in 2014. At this meeting, Member States made four time-bound commitments to help achieve the 25by25 targets:

  • Consider setting national NCD targets for 2025.
  • Consider developing national multi-sectoral policies and plans to achieve the national targets by 2025.
  • Reduce risk factors for NCDs, building on guidance set out in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
  • Strengthen health systems to address NCDs through people-centered primary health care and universal health coverage, building on guidance set out in the WHO Global NCD Action Plan.

2018 HLM

At the HLM in 2018, Member States reviewed their progress on NCDs, both nationally and globally, and towards the 4 time-bound commitments. Given the scale of the global NCD epidemic, progress so far has been inadequate, and urgent action is needed.

2019 HLM on UHC

During the first High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), world leaders adopted the first United Nations Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage. The Declaration is a result of months of debate and compromise, and while its contents cannot be considered perfect, the document represents the most comprehensive set of health commitments ever adopted at this level, providing a framework for action on UHC.

WHF took advantage of this historic opportunity to host a discussion with Ministries of Finance on fiscal policies for health and financing UHC at its first official side-event within UN headquarters. While other organizations repeated calls for better engagement with financial policymakers just outside the door, WHF was walking the talk, bringing Ministers of Finance from Ukraine and Barbados to the same table with the Norwegian Minister of Health and representatives of the global health community.

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (“2030 Agenda”) is the world’s foremost global development strategy, which was adopted in September 2015 by world leaders at a UN Summit in New York to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and protect the planet. The 2030 Agenda and the accompanying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially came into force on 01 January 2016, and will last for 15 years.

The SDGs were agreed through an inclusive process that involved governments, academia, the private sector and civil society. The World Heart Federation and its members advocated strongly for the inclusion of NCDs and CVD in the 2030 Agenda, as these had been absent from the 2000-2015 Millennium Development Goals.

In the SDGs, health is represented as Goal 3, which is entitled: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all people at all ages. Within Goal 3, there are 9 targets, including target 3.4: Reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.

All 193 countries that form the UN have ratified the 2030 Agenda, meaning they have committed resources, expertise and collaborative effort to prevent and control cardiovascular disease and other NCDs.

Member States have never been so strongly compelled to take action on the global CVD epidemic. It is now essential that governments take action to achieve the targets set in the 2030 Agenda, for NCDs and for health more broadly. Reaching these health targets requires achieving several other SDGs, such as those set for gender equality, hunger and urbanization, so it is vital that we act in partnership, and not in isolation.

Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals act as a common framework for both rhetoric and action, and WHF takes full advantage of this in its 2019-2022 Advocacy Strategy. Learn more about how we promote and support the reduction of risk factors for CVDs and their underlying determinants as an investment towards the SDGs and UHC objectives in cross-cutting policy areas.