The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific launched in 1951 and is the longest existing regional intergovernmental organization for the furtherance of the economic and social development of the region’s nations. While launched by Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom it has expanded to include 27 member states. There are four permanent programs to include Programme for Public Administration and Environment, Programme for Private Sector Development, Long-Term Scholarships Programme and the Drug Advisory Programme (DAP) which began in 1973 in response to growing drug-related concerns.
The Drug Advisory Programme has worked with member countries to evaluate policies and find solutions to address and encourage national efforts toward drug demand reduction. A critical initiative that has grown out of this emphasis on solutions is the need for evidence-based training to professionalize the field of substance use disorder and addiction treatment.
The Asian Centre for Certification and Education of Addiction Professions (ACCE) was established in February 2009 as the training and credentialing arm of DAP, part of the global initiative funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Aﬀairs (INL), US Department of State. The establishment of ACCE was in response to the long-standing crisis of inadequate evidence-based programs and the lack of of trained professionals. The Colombo Plan, with guidance from INL, embarked on this initiative to develop, expand, and professionalize the ﬁeld of drug demand reduction. ACCE focused on three functions: curriculum development, training and credentialing. To build the training and credentialing initiative, ACCE collaborated with the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellors (NAADAC) in the USA to establish a training and certification program for professionals.
By 2013 ACCE touched 1500 professionals across the region through various activities. A 12-member ACCE Commission was established in 2012 to oversee the initiative and ensure high-quality standards were met. The Commission brought together highly skilled and knowledgeable representatives from across the region. They have developed a Code of Ethics and enforcement procedure for professionals receiving credentials.
In 2015 The Commission grew to 24 members to ensure representation by all participating countries. This expansion prompted a need to evolve the name from ACCE to the International Centre for Credentialing and Education of Addiction Professionals (ICCE). The name change reflected the expansion of member nations while the functions stayed the same.
In 2019 ICCE further evolved to become the Global Centre for Credentialing and Certification (GCCC). The Commission composition has been maintained, financial support from INL continues, expansion to more member nations is ongoing while the focus has narrowed slightly. DAP continues the role of curriculum development and training allowing GCCC to focus on maintaining high standards, expanding the areas of certification, and ensuring countries have strong policies to promote best practices and certified service providers. The International
Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) has developed to connect professionals and provide resources for the field.
This evolution over the past decade to professionalize the delivery of evidence-based services in the field of prevention, treatment and recovery support is on-going. Through the engagement of professionals, policymakers, funders, and our Commission, GCCC is on a continual path to ensure those seeking services for substance use disorders receive the highest quality services to lead a life of good health and recovery.