Habitat III and the Inclusion Imperative: achieving ‘Cities for All’

12-10-2016
A wheelchair user next to a lake, looking at high-rise buildings on the opposite side of the lake
© World Enabled
Accessible cities bring benefits to the whole of society, including citizens with disabilities

CBM together with the Global Network on Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) advocates for the inclusion of women, men, girls and boys with disabilities in the New Urban Agenda and the UN Habitat III process.
Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda provide a critical opportunity for the disability community to help shape a more accessible and inclusive urban future.

Addressing the new urban agenda

The Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development, or “Habitat III ” as it is referred to, is a major global summit (formally known as the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development) in Quito, Ecuador, from 17-20 October 2016.

Habitat III offers a potent opportunity for the international community at all levels to harmonize its understanding of the problems and opportunities posed by current trends in urbanization. On one hand - poverty, quality of life, environmental degradation, and climate change are major concerns, while on the other - the economic, social and creative boons provided by cities have great potential.

The outcome of the Habitat III cities conference will be the so called New Urban Agenda. This document will guide the efforts around urbanization of a wide range of actors — nation states, city and regional leaders, international development funders, United Nations programmes and civil society — for the next 20 years. Inevitably, this agenda will also lay the groundwork for policies and approaches that will extend, and impact, far into the future.

How this is relevant to disability?

Improving accessibility contributes to social inclusion, increased quality of life, building resilience, increased safety & mobility, less pollution, cost savings, energy savings, increased social capital, better health, more independence ©CBM
The benefits of accessibility
Over the next 35 years, cities will shape virtually every aspect of global development, including the manner in which fundamental human rights are won and implemented.
About 6.25 billion people, 15% of them with disabilities, are predicted to be living in urban centers by 2050. Cities are under immense pressure to ensure that urban development is inclusive and responds to the needs of marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities.

Women, men, girls and boys with disabilities continue to face considerable discrimination regarding mobility and accessing urban infrastructures and services (i.e., housing, transport, clean water, education, employment, health services, information technology), which not only results in exclusion but fewer opportunities for employment, education, and political participation. Those who are displaced due to conflicts or disaster may also face additional constraints such as legal status and trauma, loss of assistive devices, assets, and jobs.
Well-planned cities can dramatically improve the social and economic outcomes for individuals with a range of disabilities, their families, and the larger communities they participate in. Building cities and societies for human diversity, social inclusion, and equality is becoming an increasing priority and is key for a truly inclusive, resilient, and sustainable future for all.

By developing and enforcing accessibility standards, new transportation systems, pedestrian pathways, and information systems could open unprecedented opportunities in realizing social inclusion of persons who have difficulty seeing, hearing, remembering, or moving around without assistance. Furthermore, non-discrimination policies protecting the rights of persons with disabilities are also needed to ensure the right to housing, and to combat exclusionary housing policies and prejudice that perpetuate inequality.
Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda provide a critical opportunity for the disability community to help shape a more accessible and inclusive urban future. It also provides an opportunity to design an enabling environment that reflects the reality of how inhabitants access their communities and live their lives.

Preparation for the Habitat III Conference, what has CBM done?

CBM has joined the Global Network on Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) consisting of multi-stakeholder partners working on both disability and urban development issues. Together we have been advocating for the inclusion of women, men, girls and boys with disabilities in the New Urban Agenda and the UN Habitat III process.

With our support, persons with disabilities were able to participate in the regional preparatory committee for Habitat III held in Surabaya in July 2016 actively supporting advocacy efforts driven by the DIAUD global network to incorporate disability-inclusion in the UN Habitat Outcome Document on Urban Development.
The latest draft of the outcome document successfully includes a stand-alone paragraph on disability inclusion and 15 mentions of persons with disabilities throughout every aspect of the document, from non-discrimination, to affordable housing, to public services, to accessibility in the built environment, to access to information and communication technologies.

During the Habitat III Conference, what will CBM do?

Continuing the advocacy work which has preceded the event, CBM’s global advisor for accessibility, Benjamin Dard, will travel to Quito and participate in the conference along with members of the DIAUD network including representatives from Disabled People Organisations.
  • Launch of a joint publication on disability inclusive and accessible urban development
On behalf of DIAUD network, CBM and World Enabled have produced an innovative booklet on the Inclusion Imperative: Towards Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development.
The booklet is filled with examples of disability-inclusive urban development, features the voices of people with disabilities claiming their rights as well as key recommendations to help ensure that cities respond to the needs of everyone, including persons with disabilities. The publication also contains a foreword by Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability.
The publication will be launched on October 16th, during the high-level forum on disability-inclusive urban development and further disseminated during the conference including stakeholder’s roundtable.

World Enabled and CBM will be launching the publication on the inclusion imperative during the forum. Participants at the forum will include governments, UN agencies, urban policy-makers and practitioners, DPOs as well as other stakeholders. The forum will work to ensure that the New Urban Agenda will be fully inclusive of and accessible to all, particularly to persons with disabilities. It will also facilitate an exchange of practical and technical expertise, as well as provide an opportunity for a call for commitments to action to further advance the creation of inclusive cities for all. Discussions at the forum are expected to provide a set of recommendations that will work to support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

CBM will be present at the roundtable with persons with disabilities. The roundtable is organized in collaboration with the coordinating Partner Constituency Group: Persons with Disabilities, General Assembly of Partners (GAP), and aims at the following objectives:
  1. Improve the overall participation and engagement of persons with disabilities in implementing and monitoring of the New Urban Agenda.
  2. Recommend and implement measures to enhance participation of persons with disabilities in the New Urban Agenda and broaden disability-inclusive development initiatives through an expanded use of accessible information and communication technologies to enable enhanced and diversified physical and virtual participation.
  3. Recommend and implement strategies to engage national, regional, and local authorities, civil society and other stakeholders in implementing the New Urban Agenda to ensure that all stages of urban development are inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities.
  4. Ensure implementation of the New Urban Agenda is consistent with and supportive of other major global initiatives related to persons with disabilities such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

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