The conference “Leave no one behind: tackling inequalities of persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Disability Forum and CBM, DPOD, the International Disability and Development Consortium, Handicap International and CONCORD. It gathered representatives from different EU institutions as well as from organisations of persons with disabilities from developing countries.
On 3rd December, the European Union (EU) celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the framework of the European Year for Development (EYD). In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted, in addition to the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The review of the EU implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) also took place this year. In addition the EU is the biggest donor on International Cooperation along with being the first regional body to sign and ratify the CRPD.
The conference “Leave no one behind: Tackling inequalities of persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the European Disability Forum (EDF), the International Disability and Development Consortium(IDDC), CONCORD, CBM, Disabled People's Organisation Denmark (DPOD), Handicap International and Light for the World. It gathered representatives from different EU institutions as well as from organisations of persons with disabilities in developing countries.
CRPD and the 2030 Agenda: strengthening Human Rights in EU Development Cooperation
One of the main topics raised during the conference was the linkage between the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda. Klaus Rudischhauser, Deputy Director General of DG DEVCO from the European Commission (EC), ensured that the EU will promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He asked for concrete suggestions from the organisations of persons with disabilities, and he raised the idea of developing an action plan focused on disability and development.
Richard Howitt, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Disability Intergroup, gave a strong message to the EU, raising the lack of mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities in EU external policies and programmes. He highlighted that 80% of persons with disabilities are living in poverty and the EU, as the biggest donor on International Cooperation, should do more.
The EU is the first regional body on signing and ratifying the CRPD. In this sense, its principles were the basis of the discussion during the conference. Diane Kingston, Committee Member of the CRPD and Deputy Director of the International Advocacy and Alliances of CBM, explained why the EU should include the rights of persons with disabilities in its policies. She highlighted the EU Concluding Observations related to Article 11 (Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies) and Article 32 (International cooperation). Diane asked the EU to promote quality disaggregated data to ensure an inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “We do not want to be a tick in the box. We want to actively participate and be included" she stated.
Inmaculada Placencia, Deputy Head of Unit of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion from the EC, gave an overview of the EU involvement in the review of the EU’s implementation of the CRPD. She raised the challenges that the EU had through the process, as well as the EU political will to take the Concluding Observations as a guidelines for improving and supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in developing countries.
The way forward: implementation and accountability
After the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the publication of the Concluding Observations of the EU’s implementation of the CRPD, negotiations towards how to implement the 2030 Agenda are taking place. Global indicators must ensure the 2030 Agenda is inclusive and is implemented by leaving no one behind. However, the EU needs to take some steps to guarantee that data disaggregation by disability is ensured, as mentioned by Ulrike Last, Technical Advisor and Coordinator of Making it Work from Handicap International.
Active participation of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a key factor for success. María Jesús Varela, General Director of ONCE Foundation for Latin America; Idriss Alzouma Maiga, Vice-Chair of the Africa Disability Forum and Helen Grace Asamo, Member of the Parliament of Uganda agreed on three essential aspects to achieve disability inclusive development: the need of persons with disabilities to be taken as decision makers, the need to promote inclusive education and employment in order to be actively involved in the society and the need to build capacities of the organisations of persons with disabilities in developing countries.
This conference was an important occasion for the EU to discuss opportunities represented by the 2030 Agenda and the CRPD for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in developing countries. The conference came up with several concrete ideas:
- to further build capacities of EU staff regarding inclusive development
- to use EU political will to create commitments for the rights of persons with disabilities
- to harmonise programming processes at global, regional and local level to ensure a truly political dialogue
- to include the rights of persons with disabilities in the review of policies and programmes which are already in place such as the mid-term review of the Multi annual Financial Framework (MFF)
- to promote quality data disaggregation by disability
- to empower organisations of persons with disabilities as decision makers
- to guarantee that accessibility is a prerequisite for the EU at institutional and policy level
- to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in the field of human rights
- to facilitate the sharing of good practices and knowledge of EU Member States and partner countries
CBM, in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including organisations of persons with disabilities in Europe and developing countries, will support the EU in taking these steps. We will promote the link between EU institutions and our partners, which have a strong expertise on the field.
European conference on disability-inclusive development cooperation
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