UN Report Finds Inclusion Gaps for People with Disabilities
UN Photo/Lily Solmssen
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The first UN system-wide effort to examine disability and the SDGs concludes that persons with disabilities “are not yet sufficiently included in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs”.

The report calls for enhancing efforts to mainstream the needs, rights and perspectives of people with disabilities into the process of achieving the SDGs at all levels to leave no one behind.

3 December 2018: The UN released its first-ever report on persons with disabilities and the SDGs, finding persons with disabilities continue to face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in the life of their communities. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched the report during the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The publication titled, ‘UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018: Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals By, For and With Persons with Disabilities,’ is the first UN system-wide effort to examine disability and the SDGs at the global level. The report is published by, for and with persons for disabilities with the aim of fostering more accessible, disability-inclusive societies.

The report connects findings on persons with disabilities with each of the 17 SDGs. On SDG 1 (no poverty), the report states that poverty rates are 15 percentage points higher, on average, for persons with disabilities; in some countries, the proportion of persons with disabilities living under the national poverty line is double that of persons without disabilities. Similarly, on SDG 2 (zero hunger), the average percentage of persons with disabilities who are unable to afford protein every second day is nearly double that of people without disabilities. In their daily lives, persons with disabilities face challenges in accessibility to workplaces, businesses and public spaces, as well as access to education, health and sanitation facilities, transport and new technologies. Further, the report indicates that persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls, are underrepresented in decision-making and political participation. It concludes that persons with disabilities “are not yet sufficiently included in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs.”

The report notes that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is linked to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and its implementation should be in line with the CRPD to incorporate the disability perspective in all aspects of SDG implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The report provides recommendations on how to achieve specific SDGs for persons with disabilities. On SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), for example, the report suggests eight steps to address the energy needs and implement SDG 7 for persons with disabilities by 2030, such as including targeted measures for persons with disabilities in energy programs and promoting electricity in schools to increase the use of assistive technology in education and enhance opportunities for students with disabilities to participate equally in educational systems.

On data, the report finds “a significant increase” in the number of countries that now include a set of questions on disability in their census: in 1970, approximately 19 countries or areas included questions on disability, while 120 countries or areas did in 2010. To increase the availability of data disaggregated by disability, the report recommends: continuing to build capacity to collect, process, analyze and disseminate data disaggregated by disability; regularly updating international guidelines on the production of data disaggregated by disability; and investing in an international repository of disability data to monitor progress towards the SDGs for persons with disabilities.

Upon the report’s launch, UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that the 2030 Agenda represents a commitment to reduce inequality and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including those with disabilities. Despite this commitment, he said, the report “shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most SDGs.” Guterres called for reaffirming commitments to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for all, and “where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized.”

To compile the report, researchers reviewed legislation from 193 UN Member States to highlight good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which people with disabilities can live independently. For instance, 168 countries have disability schemes that provide periodic cash benefits to persons with disabilities, only one-third of these countries cover persons with disabilities regardless of their income status. The report calls for recognizing the contributions of persons with disabilities to society and for enhancing efforts to mainstream the needs, rights and perspectives of people with disabilities into the process of achieving the SDGs at all levels to leave no one behind (LNOB).

To advance inclusive development for all, the report recommends concrete action in four areas: 1) addressing fundamental barriers causing exclusion of persons with disabilities, including discriminatory laws and policies, negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination and lack of access to assistive technology, among other barriers; 2) mainstreaming disability in SDG implementation, particularly for SDG 1, SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7, SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities; 3) investing in monitoring and evaluation of progress towards the SDGs for persons with disabilities; and 4) strengthening the means of implementation of the SDGs for persons with disabilities in the areas of capacity building, technology, finance, policy and institutional coherence and multi-stakeholders partnerships.

The commemoration of the International Day took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 3 December 2018. [UN press release] [UN Secretary-General’s statement] [DESA Voice story] [DESA press release] [Executive summary] [Publication: UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018: Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals By, For and With Persons with Disabilities]

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