Remarks by Mr. Nick Beresford: Launch of Cambodia's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control 2030

Feb 9, 2018

Photo is from World No Tobacco Day 2017/ WHO

Excellency Prof. Dr Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health

Dr Yunguo Liu, WHO Representative to Cambodia

Mr Andrew Black, FCTC Secretariat Team Leader for Development Assistance

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


UNDP Cambodia are very pleased to be a key partner in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) 2030 project. Our interest in the issue stems from the growing recognition that tobacco control is a quintessentially multisectoral development challenge. We see it as being about more than health. While the most direct impacts of tobacco use are in health, the long-term effects extend throughout the Sustainable Development Agenda – from exacerbating inequalities, deepening poverty, slowing economic growth and even compounding environmental damage.

With the FCTC Secretariat and WHO, we’re hoping to use the project to help Cambodia address the governance of tobacco control. While the health sector has a leading role in tobacco control – achieving Cambodia’s Non-communicable disease related commitments will require sustained efforts by the ministries of economy and finance, commerce, industry, tourism, labour and vocational training, and education. Setting the right strategies, ensuring meaningful coordination and protecting public policies from tobacco industry interference is the best way to ensure the high-level personal commitments in Cambodia translate into tangible progress.

The commitment to action on tobacco by Cambodia’s government is already reflected in the country’s declining tobacco use prevalence. But the burden is still too large – in terms of lives, jobs and economic growth.

As the first activity as part of the FCTC 2030 project, UNDP is leading the development of a Tobacco Control Investment Case. The mission this week has met with key government, civil society and UN counterparts as part of the case, which will calculate the economic cost of tobacco use on Cambodia’s economy, the costs of key recommended FCTC interventions and the returns on those investments, in terms of both lives saved and economic growth. We very much look forward to sharing the findings of the Investment Case later this summer.

Finding win-wins across SDG goals and targets - what UNDP considers the ‘sweet spot’ of the SDG agenda – is essential for countries like Cambodia working to advance multiple goals simultaneously. Tobacco control is one of the few policy areas that benefit all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.

The development burden of tobacco use in Cambodia mirrors well UNDP’s work on vulnerabilities, as in Cambodia, like everywhere, tobacco-related illness is borne most heavily by those who can least afford it. The FCTC Investment Case will address the relationship between inequalities and tobacco use in Cambodia. We believe tobacco control efforts can also help meet the pledge to leave no one behind.

Since the advent of the MDGs, we’ve come to a better understanding of the mutually reinforcing relationship between health and development outcomes. We know health tends to improve as a country develops. And likewise the World Bank has found that more than a quarter of the world’s economic growth during the first decade of this century can be attributed to improvements in health.

While the SDG agenda is undoubtedly ambitious, with 17 goals and 169 targets, target 3.a on strengthening implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control can lead to gains across all three of the sustainable development pillars, helping countries realize economic, social and environmental benefits.

The SDGs offer a unique opportunity to help reframe our thinking on tobacco control. The multisectoral nature of the issue is illustrated simply by looking at the range of issues that constitutes tobacco control: illicit trade, effective taxation, alternative livelihoods for tobacco farmers, environmental protection, multisectoral coordination, and international trade. All of these efforts are core to tobacco control – yet none of them involve hospitals, clinics or medicines. This is why our collective efforts on tobacco control must be led by the health sector, but grounded in the core work of these other sectors like finance, social protection, environment and trade.

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