'Identifying Europe’s information needs for effective drug policy', will be the focus of an international conference to be hosted by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) in Lisbon from 6–8 May. Commemorating 15 years of monitoring Europe’s drug situation, the event will reflect on past achievements and future challenges.
Independent, science-based information is a vital resource to help Europe understand the nature of its drug problems and better respond to them. It was on this premise, and in the face of an escalating drug phenomenon, that the EMCDDA was established in 1993. Following preliminary monitoring tasks in 1994, the agency was inaugurated in Lisbon the following year.
Illicit drug use and trafficking are worldwide phenomena that threaten health and social stability. Statistics show that around one in three young Europeans has tried an illicit drug and, on average, one of our citizens dies every hour from a drug overdose. Meanwhile, ever-changing patterns in supply and demand call for constant monitoring and dynamic responses.
The purpose of the conference will be to identify key questions and challenges arising from a constantly evolving drug situation and to assess the type of information needed to address it in the coming years. The event will bring together some 300 policymakers, researchers and practitioners from Europe, North America and Australia, as well as representatives from international organisations, to focus on the following themes:
The conference conclusions will be used by the EMCDDA and its national partners to shape future activities and generate the evidence base needed to respond effectively to the problem and support the drugs debate.
The EMCDDA exists to provide the EU and its Member States with ‘factual, objective, reliable and comparable information’ on drugs and drug addiction and their consequences. It now supplies policymakers with the data they need for drawing up informed drug laws and strategies and helps professionals and practitioners working in the field pinpoint best practice and new areas of research. Every year, it publishes a snapshot of European drug facts, figures and trends in its Annual report: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. As well as monitoring the drug situation today, the agency is ever vigilant to potentially threatening new drugs and trends.