UNGA 72: Focusing on people

The 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72) convened at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, 12 September. In addition, the General Debate opened on Tuesday centering on “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.”

The President of the 72nd session of the UNGA, Miroslav Lajčák, identified the following six overarching priorities for his presidency: (1) making a difference in the lives of ordinary people, (2) prevention and mediation in sustaining peace, (3) migration, (4) the SDGs and climate and addressing inequalities, (5) human rights and equality, and (6) quality of mandated events.

Recurrent themes in presentations and at events include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), peace, migration and refugees, climate change, gender equality, education, and youth, most of which are key areas of focus in CBM’s work. As such, I will focus this piece on youth with disabilities and the SDGs as it is increasingly important in today’s world.

Youth with Disabilities and the SDGs

Youth with disabilities and the SDGs are an area of increasing importance since there are approximately 180 to 220 million youth with disabilities worldwide and nearly 80 percent of live in developing countries.[1] Persons with disabilities, including youth with disabilities experience higher rates of unemployment and economic inactivity than their counterparts without disabilities and are at greater risk of insufficient social protection, which is integral to reducing extreme poverty.[2]

The most applicable Goals and targets for youth with disabilities include Goal 4 on education and Goal 8 on employment. Especially, the targets and indicators under Goal 4:

  • 4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
  • 4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
  • 4.a.1 Percentage of schools with access to (i) electricity; (ii) Internet for pedagogical purposes; (iii) computers for pedagogical purposes; (iv) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (v) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; (vi) basic handwashing facilities…

And the targets and indicators under Goal 8:

  • 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • 8.5.1 Average hourly earnings of female and male employees by occupation, by age group and persons with disabilities
  • 8.5.2 Unemployment rate, by sex, age group and persons with disabilities

There are solid examples this year of regional engagement of youth with disabilities in sustainable development and human rights, including:

A strong national example of empowerment of youth with disabilities is from Rwanda through the Disability Rights Fund:

  • Uwezo Youth Empowerment is a Rwandan local NGO that was established by youth with disabilities to advocate for their inclusion of youth with disabilities in all youthful programs.
  • With support from VSO Rwanda, UWEZO implemented a two-year project aimed at employment of job seekers with disabilities through volunteering and/or internships.
  • Uwezo facilitated 45 youth with disabilities to have mentorships, transport and communication allowance.
  • As of July 2016, 21 youth with disabilities are fully employed.

Suggestions for engagement on the way forward

  • Engage and collaborate more with other civil society groups, such as the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.
  • Participate in and support youth with disabilities to attend the ECOSOC Youth Forum, UN Youth Delegate Programme and additional UN programs
  • Create commissions, subgroups and programs focused on youth in our own organizations and alliances.
  • Provide platforms for trainings and information exchange for youth with disabilities.
  • Participate in the HLPF 2019, which will focus on “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

[1] Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University and UNDESA. From http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/documents/youth/fact-sheets/youth-with-disabilities.pdf.

[2] (2017). ILO. From http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/disability-and-work/WCMS_475650/lang–en/index.htm.

High-level Political Forum 2018

Summer is coming to a close and we are already gearing up for the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018! As a refresher, the HLPF is the annual global platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Please continue reading for a concise review on what is happening.

The Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic Marie Chatardova is the new President of ECOSOC. It is fantastic to have a woman in this position!

The HLPF 2018 theme is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” with a special focus on SDG 6 (water), SDG 7 (energy), SDG 11 (cities and human settlements), SDG 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), SDG 15 (terrestrial ecosystems), and SDG 17 (MOI and partnerships). SDGs 11 and 17 are the most relevant for persons with disabilities and our work. Refer below to the explicit references to persons with disabilities in the respective targets and indicators.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
11.2 By 2030, 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, women, children, “persons with disabilities” and older persons 11.2.1 Proportion of population that has convenient access to public transport, by sex, age and “persons with disabilities”

 

11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and “persons with disabilities” 11.7.1 Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and “persons with disabilities
11.7.2 Proportion of persons victim of physical or sexual harassment, by sex, age, “disability status” and place of occurrence, in the previous 12 months

 

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, “disability,” geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts

The exact dates of the HLPF are not yet certain, but the event will be held for eight days in June/July of next year.

Forty-four countries have already volunteered to present National Reviews next year and the list is now closed. The countries include the following (those in bold are reviewing for a second time): Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Benin, Bhutan, Cabo Verde, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Greece, Guinea, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Namibia, Niger, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine, Sudan, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Viet Nam (Please find the list of countries here, and select “2018”).

For CBM’s work at the national level, the countries of particular interest include Niger, Republic of Congo, Viet Nam, Mexico, and Ecuador. For our Member Associations, the countries of focus include Australia, Canada, Ireland, and Switzerland.

An important point to keep in mind is that during the 73rd session of the General Assembly, the format and organizational aspects of the HLPF will be reviewed by Member States. We must ensure that persons with disability continue to be meaningfully included in the HLPF.

2030 Agenda and CRPD training in Bolivia

From 11 to 13 August, I co-facilitated a workshop in Cochabamba, Bolivia with our partner Victor Baute from Venezuela who represented RIADIS. The workshop focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the inclusion of persons with disabilities in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The workshop was the first of its kind in Bolivia for organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). The enthusiasm and interest from participants in learning about the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with the Convention was quite evident. In addition, Carla Caceres from CBM in Bolivia attended the workshop, as well as other supporting NGOs, including MyRight and ADD. Since Bolivia is a priority country for CBM, the workshop was especially well linked to our focus on global advocacy and national programmatic work on disability-inclusive development.

Alt="Victor Baute presenting the SDGs and CRPD"

Victor Baute presenting the SDGs and CRPD

The workshop was organized by ASHICO, the Association of Hard of Hearing Persons in Cochabamba and member of RIADIS. Thirty DPO representatives attended the participatory workshop from national, municipal, and community-based DPOs from all over Bolivia.

The workshop was inclusive and diverse with representation from Indigenous persons with disabilities, women with disabilities, youth with disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities, self-advocates, Little People, persons with disabilities in sports, Deaf persons, Blind persons, persons with low vision, hard of hearing persons, persons with physical disabilities, and families with children with disabilities. Victor lead the facilitation and received positive feedback on being a role model for the Deaf community and persons with disabilities in Bolivia and the region.

Participants shared the myriad barriers and challenges for persons with disabilities in Bolivia. An overarching challenge is that there are many norms and laws in Bolivia for persons with disabilities, but these are only on paper and unfortunately not implemented. Moreover, there is a missing connection between the technical expertise from the UN and the national level in Bolivia in terms of the CRPD and its implementation. In Bolivia, it is at the municipal level where disability laws are implemented and there is real impact.

Alt="Anibal Subirana from Federación Boliviana de Sordos (Bolivian Deaf Federation) presenting"

Anibal Subirana from Federación Boliviana de Sordos (Bolivian Deaf Federation) presenting

The top priorities for persons with disabilities in Bolivia that emerged from group work included:

  • Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being, and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
  • Followed by, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

 

 

Participants were keen to learn and understand more about the 2030 Agenda and how it links to the Convention. As a result, the level of awareness significantly grew by day 3, as the photo below indicates. With this awareness, the group produced next steps as outcomes, including:

ALt="Participants’ level of awareness on the CRPD, 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and the national disability law from day 1 to 3"

Participants’ level of awareness on the CRPD, 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and the national disability law from day 1 to 3

  • The disability community in Bolivia will work to be more united and have shared messages to advocate to the government for CRPD and SDG implementation.
  • Participants will replicate this training and what they learned in the countryside and other remote parts of Bolivia to a variety of disability organizations and communities.
  • A group of participants will replicate and share what they learned from the workshop every month in Cochabamba for persons with disabilities.

 

  • The group proposed that there be a follow-up training in a year to assess what has been disseminated and realized in that time throughout the disability community in Bolivia.

I look forward to working more with the DPOs and partners in Bolivia!

ALt="Olivia Ojopi and Mayra Borda from the Association of Little People in Bolivia with Victor Baute from RIADIS and me"

Olivia Ojopi and Mayra Borda from the Association of Little People in Bolivia with Victor Baute from RIADIS and me

HLPF 2017: leaving no one behind

The 2017 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) took place from 10-19, with an additional day for the General Debate on 20 July, at the United Nations in New York. The HLPF represents the global platform on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) annually in July. The theme for this year’s HLPF was “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” The set of Goals that were reviewed in depth were the following, including Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, that is considered each year:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Alba Gonzalez (IAA) and I (IAA) actively participated in the Forum and supported partners, including Risna Utami (Indonesia), Pratima Gurung (Nepal), Gabriel Ismael Soto Vadillo, RIADIS (Uruguay), and Judith Umoh (Nigeria), and others. Overall, more than 50 persons with disabilities and partners attended the HLPF and represented the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.

Alt="DPO partners attending the HLPF"

DPO partners attending the HLPF

During the first week, persons with disabilities presented on behalf of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities in approximately 85 percent of the thematic discussions of the aforementioned Goals. This provided visibility for the disability movement and highlighted the situation of persons with disabilities at the national level. You can read the policy briefs here that the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities compiled on the Goals of focus.

During the second week, 44 countries reported on national SDG implementation and presented their voluntary national reviews. The situation of persons with disabilities were referenced in the majority of these oral presentations and participants were able to ask specific country-focused questions on behalf of civil society seven times, including Indonesia, Jordan, Argentina, Uruguay, Ethiopia (twice), and Denmark.

Also during the second week, I supported Colin Allen, Chair of IDA and President of the World Federation of the Deaf, in the Partnership Exchange in which he presented on the IDA and IDDC Partnership for SDGs. Colin stole the show and gave a stellar presentation on this unique partnership in the UN General Assembly Hall! We will continue to build on this partnership as SDG implementation continues.

Alt="Colin Allen at the Partnership Exchange"

Colin Allen at the Partnership Exchange

At the end of the HLPF, the Ministerial Declaration was adopted and includes five references to persons with disabilities in the areas of poverty eradication, implementation of nationally appropriate social protection floors, addressing the multiple forms of discrimination faced by women and girls, collection and coordination of data collection, and the need to localize the SDGs by reaching out to all stakeholders including subnational and local authorities.

This year’s HLPF was accessible in myriad ways, including CART from 10-20 July, International Sign in the VNR sessions and General Debate from 17-19, an accessible sustainable development knowledge platform website, access to roaming microphones and listening devices, accessible seating for presenters and wheelchair users, and more. I would like to give a big thank you to all of the UN staff who worked with me on making the HLPF accessible for persons with disabilities and I hope we can build on this excellent example of inclusion and leaving no one behind.

It is estimated that 70 countries will volunteer to give national reviews at the 2018 HLPF, so this is an area of increased interest and development. Positively, persons with disabilities were incredibly organized and visible in this forum and we can continue to strengthen this work for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in SDG implementation at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

Additional Information

Click here for more information on the 2017 HLPF.