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At the Global Disability Summit, UN leaders called for increasing disability inclusion through SDG implementation, and shared commitments to end stigma and tackle discrimination against persons with disabilities.

The UNDP Administrator and Deputy Secretary-General said the UN Secretary-General has launched a review of the UN’s approach to disabilities and will issue a report on disabilities and development in 2019.

24 July 2018: The Global Disability Summit resulted in 170 commitments to end stigma and tackle discrimination against persons with disabilities, and ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access and voice in society. In addition, 301 governments and organizations signed the ‘Charter for Change,’ an action plan to implement the UN International Convention on Disability. The Summit was the first ever to be convened on disability.

The Governments of Kenya and the UK and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) co-hosted the event on 24 July 2018, in London, UK. Participants from the development and humanitarian sectors discussed how to raise global attention and focus on disabilities, showcase evidence and best practices on disability from around the world and mobilize global and national commitments on disability.

In opening remarks, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner emphasized that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s promise to leave no one behind depends on ensuring that all peoples, particularly those facing discrimination and exclusion, can participate equally in every aspect of life. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said government commitments to advance the rights of persons with disabilities through the 2030 Agenda and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have “not translated into significant improves in the lives of the 1.5 billion persons with disabilities,” noting that persons with disabilities face discrimination, experience deprivation and are denied access to education, health care and opportunities to participate in public life.

Mohammed and Steiner informed participants that the UN Secretary-General has launched a review of the UN’s approach to disabilities, which will address issues related to accessibility, employment and mainstreaming in development and humanitarian action. The review will analyze the UN’s policy, planning and operational frameworks, programming and capacities, and will incorporate perspectives from across the UN, including from UN Country Teams on how the UN supports persons with disabilities on the ground. The UN plans to have a new UN system-wide policy, action plan and accountability framework on disabilities by early 2019. Steiner emphasized that this framework is expected to help improve how the UN supports countries to deliver on the SDGs and leave no one behind.

In addition, Mohammed informed that in 2018 the UN Secretary-General will release a first-ever report on disability and development. The report aims to provide a baseline regarding the situation of persons with disabilities in the context of the SDGs.

Commitments made at the Summit focus on: addressing stigma; supporting inclusive education; promoting economic empowerment; and providing access to technology. These commitments aim to protect the rights of persons with disabilities through revised or new legislation and action plans on disability inclusion, help those affected by humanitarian crises, and support persons with disabilities in accessing technology, including by increasing the affordability of assistive technology. Among the specific commitments, 19 governments, organizations and businesses pledged to develop the skills of people with disabilities and help them access decent work. Nine African governments committed to creating safety nets to ensure that persons with disabilities are not forgotten.

The UN committed to change the way it includes persons with disabilities into its work. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) plans to support an additional 30 million children with disabilities in over 140 countries to gain a high-quality education by 2030. UN Women announced that 80% of its country programs will include a focus on girls and women with disabilities by 2021. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women will spend US$3 million on programmes to reach 8,000 girls and women. The World Bank pledged to ensure that all its education and urban mobility projects are disability inclusive by 2025.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) committed to give special attention to the full inclusion of rural peoples with disabilities in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social protection systems, and to move towards disaggregating its monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian and resilience building projects to ascertain the impacts of its interventions on persons with disabilities. UNDP committed to, inter alia: improve data disaggregation and address data gaps in disability, gender and aging across the SDGs; help ensure that persons with disabilities are better represented in public institutions, in line with SDG 16; and ensure disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) committed to develop guidance and support countries to address negative attitudes and practices towards people with psychosocial, cognitive and intellectual disabilities, among other actions. [Government of UK Press Release] [Global Disability Summit Commitments] [UNDP Press Release] [UNDP Administrator Statement] [UN Deputy Secretary-General Statement] [IDA Event Webpage] [WHO Webpage on Summit]

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