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    Sustainable Development and People with Disabilities

    A few days ago, The United Nations held The Sustainable Development Summit. Diplomats from all over the globe met in New York City to agree on 17 goals by which they hope to bring about positive change in the world, and improve the quality of life for all. This is not the first time the U.N. has met and set goals of this type.  It is, however, the first time that disability and people living with disabilities, has been specifically mentioned at such high-level strategic planning.

    Disability is referenced in various parts of the Strategic Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs, for instance:
    • Goal 4 on inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all focuses on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for building and upgrading education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and also provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
    • In Goal 8: to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, the international community aims to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
    • Closely linked is Goal 10, which strives to reduce inequality within and among countries by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities.
    • Goal 11 would work to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. To realize this goal, Member States are called upon to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, such as persons with disabilities. In addition, the proposal calls for providing universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for persons with disabilities.
    • Goal 17 stresses that in order to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, the collection of data and monitoring and accountability of the SDGs are crucial. Member States are called upon to enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS), which would significantly increase the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data that is also disaggregated by disability.

    ILRCSF and other disability advocacy organizations will keep a keen eye on how the U.N. sets out to achieve these goals.  We are, of course, committed to the idea that – as the saying goes – “nothing about us, with us.”  As staunch supporters of the Independent Living philosophy, we believe that people with disabilities must play a major role in any such endeavors, and we will looking out for opportunities to be involved in any U.N. initiatives related to disability rights. As the specific activities related to the SDGs are developed and announced, we will keep our consumers, supporters, and allies up to date. If there are ways that you can get involved, we’ll get the word out.

    Some links worth checking out, to get a better idea of what the Sustainable Development Summit was all about, and what it means to all of us:

    The Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

    The SDGs and Disability 

    The NY Times Report on the Sustainable Development Summit

    Sustainable Development Goals: Ensuring No One is Left Behind


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