In late July the United Nations resolved to establish an Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. The Task Force will be led by WHO. Its main objective is to coordinate all UN organisations to implement the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. The Global Action Plan has various strategies to deal with NCDs arising from tobacco, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity. See WHO press release http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/ncds_ecosoc_20130722/en/index.html
The Global Action Plan makes several references to the need for advertising and marketing regulation. However one of the issues identified in the WHO press release is the need for UN organisations to increase their capacity to so they can implement the strategies.
The capacity problem was also identified at the November 2012 APEC Dialogue in Hanoi. Five recommendations were made – see post below of 30 January. One of the recommendations was,
“4. Capacity Building – There is a need for capacity building to promote effective self-regulation and help economies develop appropriate systems. Two initiatives are suggested:
– Regulatory Mentorship Program – A mentoring program on such issues as advertising standards legislation, regulations and development of regulatory codes
– Self-Regulatory Organisation Workshop – A technical workshop held in 2013 for economies seeking to build capacity for the effective establishment and/or improved operation of a self-regulatory regime.”
This and the other recommendations are currently under consideration by APEC.
WHO and the UN have identified that increased capacity is required by UN agencies in several areas. One of those areas is the assistance in the development of best practice advertising regulation. The Hanoi Dialogue concluded that industry and Governments need increased capacity so that economies can develop best practice systems.
The problem of lack of capacity has been clearly identified but there is no need to wait for the UN agencies, WHO or APEC to start the process. Consumers need to be properly protected and empowered by best practice advertising regulation. It is also in the self-interest of industry to satisfy consumer interests by protecting and empowering them. Industry therefore has a key role in building capacity and working with Governments, UN agencies, WHO and NGOs in developing best practice advertising regulatory systems.