Strong leadership from heads of state is needed to meet national commitments to the UN political declaration on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and to achieve the goal of a 25% reduction in premature NCD mortality by 2025 (the 25 by 25 goal). A simple, phased, national response to the political declaration is suggested, with three key steps: planning, implementation, and accountability. Planning entails mobilisation of a multisectoral response to develop and support the national action plan, and to build human, financial, and regulatory capacity for change. Implementation of a few priority and feasible cost-effective interventions for the prevention and treatment of NCDs will achieve the 25 by 25 goal and will need only few additional financial resources. Accountability incorporates three dimensions: monitoring of progress, reviewing of progress, and appropriate responses to accelerate progress. A national NCD commission or equivalent, which is independent of government, is needed to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are held accountable for the UN commitments to NCDs.