Children Matter programme identity

An international forum advocating Children's right for a drug-free childhood

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The world drug report of 2021 estimates

A Rise in Drug use of 11% by 2030

One of the main threats to the future of our children is exposure to the growing trend of narcotics and substance abuse.

Narcotics and Substance
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Civil Society Members Policy Makers Child Right Advocates Government Representatives Prevention-treatment-recovery Professionals Youth Leaders

Aims of the Forum


Establish the need to create Substance Abuse Free Environments for children around the world (Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - UNCRC).


Advocate the relevance of primary prevention in national drug policies to protect children.


Domesticate the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) with children as a priority and sharing best practices.


The forum will have national and international speakers. Delegates will include civil society members, policy makers, national and state commissions on child rights, government representatives, prevention-treatment-recovery professionals and youth leaders from various nations.


An initiative of the Fourth Wave Foundation, Project VENDA works in Kerala, India to effectively contain and manage the issue of substance abuse among children and teenagers by creating S.A.F.E. (Substance Abuse Free Environments)

World Federation Against Drugs is a multilateral community of 365 member organisations and over 400 individuals in 63 countries, who share the common aim to strengthen prevention, increase access to treatment and to promote recovery. WFAD specifically addresses the needs and rights of women and children within our field.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime For two decades, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been helping make the world safer from drugs, organised crime, corruption and terrorism. We are committed to achieving health, security and justice for all by tackling these threats and promoting peace and sustainable well-being as deterrents to them.


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The Venue

O by Tamara

At O by Tamara, the highest priority is providing outstanding standards of hospitality to every guest. The hotel offers three categories of rooms, each designed to perfection and fitted with every amenity required and desired by the luxury business traveller. Each room and suite is an exquisitely designed space to unwind in after a long day of work, fitted with a luxurious king-sized or twin bed, a 43” HD smart TV, electronic safe, stocked minibar, walk-in shower, and laundry services.

NH By Pass Venpalavattom, Anayara, Trivandrum – 695029

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Youth Forum & S.A.F.E.TY

FOURTH WAVE FOUNDATION, in association with the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme (DAP), will host a Youth Forum alongside the Children Matter Forum to promote youth leadership in drug demand reduction by fostering youth-led engagements with their peers. The Youth Forum will consist of about 50 youth participants who will be trained in various substance use prevention topics such as science of addiction and prevention, the role of youth and how to influence prevention in their communities. They will also be equipped with knowledge and skills in prevention of substance use and misuse, and enhance leadership qualities and skills to lead substance use prevention programmes in their own communities. The forum will be an opportunity for the youth to interact with young people from different environments worldwide. We will witness youth networking for change through evidence-based practices and learning about substance use prevention.

Youth from across Kerala will come together on the final day of the Forum as part of S.A.F.E.TY- Substance Abuse Free Environment Team Youth, to advocate for a drug-free childhood.

S.A.F.E.- Lifetime Achievement Award

Project VENDA has been working with vulnerable teens and young adults affected by substance use disorders for a decade. The one indisputable fact that keeps challenging us in the advocacy of drug abuse prevention for teens and young adults is that this is a social problem requiring long-drawn interventions, patience, commitment, and consistent effort. Around the globe, there is a deliberate and focused effort to normalize, or even glamourise, the use of drugs as a lifestyle choice. The lobby at work here is rich and powerful, and their motive is pure profit. Their Predatory marketing hits the most vulnerable populations, such as women, children, and youth. The younger generation living in an era of personal liberty, and rising affluence, become targets of this influence. Therefore this issue becomes more complex.

People involved in the advocacy of prevention and recovery do so by influencing governments and states' policies, and they often remain unappreciated, silent workers. Very few survive the test of time to continue this arduous and long walk towards creating Substance Abuse Free Environments for children and youth. Their efforts are often not acknowledged and go unnoticed because the world has not yet woken up to the great danger. These unsung heroes have dedicated their lives to avert this looming threat of an entire generation getting trapped into a vortex of poor performance, ill health, indiscipline, addiction, psychosis, isolation, insecurity, and a bleak future.

Project VENDA, with S.A.F.E. Lifetime Achievement Awards, intends to honor and acknowledge the contributions of those who walked in before us, guiding the work of creating the right to a drug-free childhood worldwide and contributing to the greater good of the world and humanity.

S.A.F.E. - Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg

Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg has spent more than 4 decades as a development aid specialist, alcohol and drug policy advocate and chaired key positions in advocating for societal concerns with the goal that drug policy should be reducing the prevalence of drug use.
Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg’s chief roles with international networks IOGT International renamed now to MOVENDI International and World Federation Against Drugs with a global membership base of 300 organisations representing the entire spectrum from prevention to recovery services speaks volumes of his involvement globally with civil societies as a Human-Rights defender.
This S.A.F.E - Life-Time Achievement Award 2022 by the Fourth Wave Foundation - India is an expression of our appreciation for the key role Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg plays in advocating for SAFE - Substance Abuse Free Environments for children and youth.
This award is dedicated to Mr Esbjörn Hörnberg on behalf of all the children of the world and presented at the international forum CHILDREN MATTER – Right to a Drug-Free Childhood

Dr Edith Schlaffer Kropiunigg

Dr Edith Schlaffer Kropiunigg has spent more than 3 decades in the social sector and in response to the growing threat of violent extremism, launched the Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE) network, the world’s first female counter-extremism platform. ‘MotherSchools: Parenting for Peace’ Model of the Women Without Borders speaks volumes of her belief in mothers as the first line of defence against extremism.
This S.A.F.E - Life-Time Achievement Award 2022 by the Fourth Wave Foundation - India is an expression of our appreciation for the key role Dr Edith Schlaffer Kropiunigg plays in building competence and confidence of women and mothers to effect positive social change in countries of crisis and transition around the world.
This award is dedicated to Dr Edith Schlaffer Kropiunigg on behalf of all the children of the world at the forum CHILDREN MATTER – Right to a Drug-Free Childhood.


Why Children Matter

The world drug report of 2021 estimates

A Rise in Drug use of 11% by 2030

One of the main threats to the future of our children is exposure to the growing trend of narcotics and substance abuse.

Narcotics and Substance

The debilitating menace of drug abuse now prevalent among children and youth causes too many childhoods to be cut short. In this context, embracing Child Rights' Convention's Article 33 (States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances) and the science of the adolescent brain development, nations from all over the world must unify to protect young persons from the initiation, production, and trafficking of drugs.

The World Drug Report of 2021 estimates a rise in drug use of 11% by 2030. The increase will mainly appear in lower-income countries, estimated to encompass 40% of the total increase. Marijuana legalisation has led to a global normalisation of the drug among youth. Alongside a normalisation of marijuana through popular culture. It is also curious to note that the potency of marijuana has increased four-fold between 1995 and 2019 through the propagation of hybrid lab bred varieties that is widely prevalent across the globe.

The National Mental Health Survey repeatedly shows 75% treatment gap for drug use disorders. It is indicative that merely 5% of people with illicit drug use disorders receive inpatient care. Children from families affected by the problem, children in need of care and children in conflict with the law are major concerns for those working for the welfare and safety of children to realise the Article 33 of the UNCRC.

Poor accessibility to quality health care and social care programs for people grappling with substance use disorders will be a major concern in the next decade. There is also an urgent need to understand early deflection or dissuasion programs to help them breakout of the clutches of crime groups by focusing on reformation that supports need for treatment and rehabilitation for substance use disorders is paramount.