2021 marked our 25th year as an organisation. We have grown from a small group in Liverpool showing international visitors a bold harm reduction approach, to a global leader in analysis, advocacy and convening the sector. There have been great strides in the recognition of the role of health and human rights in the response to drugs. We are proud to be part of a dynamic, intersectional movement and proud to follow on from the work started by the courageous harm reductionists before us.
We are committed to advocating for an understanding and practice of harm reduction that is inclusive and expansive, which recognises the agency of individuals and communities, and is rooted in justice and compassion. In 2021, we worked on position papers, advocacy briefs and research to contribute to this expansive definition of harm reduction, and will continue to do so in the years to come. In our work we centre lived experience and geographically diverse expertise as critical parts of the future of the harm reduction and drug policy reform movements. While we continued to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we also forged new ways of working, both in policy and everyday practice. We led ground-breaking research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon criminalised and marginalised groups, including people who use drugs. We challenged the encroachment of security personnel in government pandemic responses, based on our experience tracking the negative impact of punitive responses to drug use. Decades of drug control demonstrate that stigma, surveillance and policing do not foster healthy, safe communities.
We ended the year on a sparkling high, with our first ever major online event. Constellations: An Online Festival on Drugs and Harm Reduction fostered exchange between more than 1000 participants from 73 countries. Through panels, interviews, poetry, film and more, we talked about science, justice and pleasure. The festival and the new connections resulting from it left us inspired and energised, ready to sustain our research and advocacy for human rights and lifesaving harm reduction services.