National Drug Observatories from Latin American and Caribbean countries meet in Lisbon for ‘COPOLAD week’

National Drug Observatories (NDOs) from Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries are gathering in Lisbon from 22–26 May for a week of activities under the COPOLAD III programme. The overarching theme of the initiative will be strengthening the technical capacity and institutional role of the NDOs (1). The EMCDDA is an official partner of the programme, which promotes dialogue and bi-regional cooperation on drug policy between the European Union and LAC countries (2).

22 May: Annual meeting of the National Drug Observatories — This is the second time that this annual meeting has been held in Lisbon. The event will offer a forum for NDO representatives to exchange knowledge on drug policies in the EU and LAC countries, to reflect on best practices in this area and to discuss challenges and needs in the region. Co-organised by FIIAPP and the EMCDDA, the event will also be attended by representatives of the Reitox national focal points, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (CICAD/OAS) and the General Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD).

23 May: Extended Reitox network meeting — Participants from the NDO meeting will attend the Extended Reitox network meeting. This event, gathering a record 80 participants (see news item), is designed to foster an exchange of know-how and experience on practical and thematic issues. The theme of this year’s session is ‘Empowering through learning: professionals in the field of drugs and people who use drugs’ in the context of the European Year of Skills

24–26 May: Capacity-building workshops, working group meetings and study visits — Rounding off the week, the NDO representatives will participate in a three-day training programme, organised by FIIAPP. In capacity-building workshops, they will exchange views with invited experts on key drug topics. (The EMCDDA will contribute to a roundtable discussion on gender and drugs). Five working group meetings will also take place (3). The EMCDDA will contribute to the working groups on improving the analytical and advocacy capacity of NDOs and developing and strengthening national early-warning systems. This follows earlier meetings of these working groups in Chile this year, which kicked off collaboration in these areas. During the training days, and in collaboration with the Portuguese Reitox focal point SICAD, the participants will take part in study visits to a mobile drug consumption room and to a police forensic laboratory.