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CEO Perspective

UNGA 2022: Harmful industries and the global goals

Vital Strategies

Delegates and leaders from around the world have descended on New York over the past two weeks for the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly and its nearly 400 side events. The complex, overlapping threats of war, food insecurity and climate change have been top of mind and several new, large-scale commitments are underway. Vital Strategies has seized and created opportunities during this annual session to strengthen our partnerships and advance our vision of a healthier, more equitable world.

We were proud to be highlighted by Hillary Rodham Clinton during a Clinton Global Initiative event for our commitment to scale up efforts to strengthen data systems and monitor neglected sexual and reproductive health and rights to inform and drive policy development in several countries.

In Deadly Sway: Harmful Industries and Global Goals, Vital brought together experts and a virtual global audience for a VitalTalks event to discuss how corporate influence through lobbying, sponsorship and even the language we use hampers progress toward the sustainable development goals. Given the seeming intractability of many of our global challenges, our Public Health Power Hour podcast on Twitter Spaces examined the provocative question, “Does UNGA Matter?” Subscribe to the podcast here.

At our New York office, Vital hosted PATH’s Coalition for Access to NCD Medicines and Products, a cross-sectoral, global group that works to tackle the barriers countries face in accessing essential medicines and technology. The meeting marked the fifth anniversary of the coalition, an important milestone.

Vital Strategies’ Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Program hosted delegations from Cambodia and Cameroon in New York. The delegations visited the Vital office where they exchanged experiences about improving CRVS systems. Representatives from both countries also participated in a UNGA side event at UNICEF’s headquarters, with a panel discussion highlighting Cameroon and Cambodia’s CRVS successes following a lifecycle approach, starting with birth registration and ending with death registration.

In addition, in response to disturbing data on NCDs shared in a new WHO portal and report, we called for a reimagining of public health to focus on the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. The report shows the dramatic global scale and inequitable impacts of noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. NCDs account for 80% of all deaths worldwide and are largely preventable, a reason to celebrate the reappointment of Michael R. Bloomberg as WHO Global Ambassador for NCDs and Injuries.

Vital works with partners in more than 70 countries to address many of the most pressing health challenges of our time. We are grateful when these challenges are elevated to the global stage, and also know that true progress then happens city by city, country by country, when government and civil society enact and execute policies and work together to protect the health of all people everywhere, now and for our future.

José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies

Deadly Sway: Harmful Industries and the Global Goals

Reaching the Sustainable Development Goals represents our best chance to improve health and prosperity around the world. But the influence of harmful industries is hampering progress.

In this VitalTalks event, speakers share their recommendations on how the United Nations, governments and civil society can rise to the challenge of meeting the global goals and work toward a future when everyone, everywhere can attain the highest standard of physical and mental health.


Tlaleng Mofokeng, M.D., author and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Maisha Hutton, Executive Director, Healthy Caribbean Coalition

Rebecca Perl, Vice President, Partnerships and Initiatives, Vital Strategies

With opening remarks from José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies. The event is moderated by Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies.

Our Public Health Power Hour Podcast: Does UNGA Matter?

UNGA, the United Nations General Assembly, sets policy for the United Nations. As we face generational challenges—rebuilding public health post-COVID, climate change, political instability—the successes and challenges of this global coordinating mechanism have come into focus.

In the latest episode of our podcast, we review the week at the UN and discuss the topic: Does UNGA Matter?

Listen and subscribe to our podcast.

New Brief: Tobacco Industry Efforts to Influence Policy and Debate Among United Nations Audiences

A growing number of UN agencies are rejecting partnerships and interactions with the tobacco industry, recognizing that the industry’s commercial interests are fundamentally incompatible with the UN’s health and development objectives. Yet the industry continues to seek and find ways of accessing UN audiences and policy discussions in spite of these measures—suggesting these efforts need to be strengthened across the UN system.

This new brief from tobacco industry watchdog STOP reveals which UN General Assembly issues are of interest to the tobacco industry and how to identify and avoid industry influence around United Nations organizations and events.

Download the brief