Dialogues on Sustainable Development: A Disability-Inclusive Perspective

This is written by Charlotte Axelsson.

CBM (International Advocacy and Alliances) is pleased to present its latest publication – Dialogues on Sustainable Development: A Disability Inclusive Perspective.

For many years, CBM has been involved with governments, UN agencies, regional bodies (such as the EU) and civil society in conversations about the importance of disability-inclusive development. Particularly, CBM has focussed on the need to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international cooperation efforts. The aim of this new publication is to contribute to a better understanding of how different actors involved in sustainable development efforts can take further steps to include persons with disabilities.

This report is a refreshing collection of dialogues around key development themes, which are crucial for the implementation of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda. Guest contributors from the mainstream development sectors of the UN, the European Commission and civil society highlight the many commonalities between disability-inclusive development and a range of overarching development themes. It is structured around the three basic elements of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental sustainability.

“We must ensure that growth is inclusive and leaves no one behind. Actions are needed to that men, women and youth have access to decent work and social protections floors. Labour market policies should put a special focus on young people, women and people with disabilities.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The chapter on economic sustainability in this publication echoes Ban Ki-moon’s above statement in the General Assembly in 2014. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda has to combine investment and private sector expansion with making sure that jobs give a genuine chance for people to lift themselves out of poverty. To make sure that all men and women get the chance to access jobs, work places must be accessible and grants and credits must be inclusive of persons with disabilities. This requires accountable and effective public institutions that guarantee human rights, democratic governance and transparency. Furthermore, building strong, accountable and inclusive government institutions through participation, respect for human rights and transparency can better ensure access to services such as education employment, health and social welfare.

“Women’s rights are important for me because I see myself first and foremost as a woman, not as a woman with disability and that’s my identify.” – Ola Abu Alghaib

Ola Abu Alghaib, an expert in disability, gender and development from Palestine, powerfully illustrates the importance of pursuing a positive dialogue between women with disabilities and the wider gender movement. This is one of the themes discussed in the chapter on social sustainability and reflects the need for brining the disability and development sectors closer to each other. Universal health care, inclusive equitable education and women empowerment remain important global goals in the 2030 Agenda. Making sure that men, women, girls and boys with disabilities are guaranteed a quality education and full health care coverage, including necessary rehabilitation, are fundamental for eradicating the social marginalisation and exclusion of persons with disabilities.

“An inclusive city promotes growth with equity. It is a place where everyone, regardless of their economic means, gender, race, ethnicity, disability or religion, is enabled and empowered to fully participate in the social, economic and political opportunities that cities have to offer.”

Ensuring environmental sustainability intersects with all areas of international cooperation. Persons with disabilities are particularly at risk form the effects of climate change, such as natural disaster and food insecurity, as this puts them at greater likelihood of facing economic hardship, illnesses and death. Combined with other environmental risks, such as poor sanitation, water quality and uncontrolled urbanisation, barriers that exclude persons with disabilities are maintained or amplified. The dialogues on environmental concerns in this publication gives powerful examples of how the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in WASH programmes ensures dignity and build self-reliance, it brings improvements in health status and nutrition, which facilitate opportunities for education and work. Similarly, a participatory urban planning and disaster risk management can create disability-inclusive and resilient cities, where everyone can benefit from social, economic and political opportunities.

Read the Dialogues on Sustainable Development: A Disability-Inclusive Perspective and join the discussion!

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