Mainstreaming disability in the implementation of the Agenda 2030

The 56th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD56) held a High-level Panel Discussion on “Towards inclusive, resilient and sustainable development: an evidence-based approach to the mainstreaming of disability in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Agenda 2030” under sub-item 3(b) during its 56th session. The following panelists discussed evidence-based approach to the disability-inclusive implementation of the 2030 Agenda: H.E Ms. Zhang Haidi, Chairperson, China Disabled Persons’ Federation; Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; Mrs. Mary Crock, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney; and Ms. Margaret Mbogoni, Senior Statistician, Statistics Division, UNDESA. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Venus Illagan, Secretary General, Rehabilitation International.

Executive Summary

  • Persons with disabilities still face multiple barriers to equal participation in the society and there is an urgent need to remove those barriers.
  • Successful disability-inclusive development requires better and disaggregated data on disability. Yet, the lack of adequate data remains a major challenge.
  • There is a need of validated methodologies to collect consistent and comparable data on disability.
  • Establishing a forum on sustainable development of persons with disabilities in CSocD could play a key role in enhancing international exchange and cooperation.

Disability-inclusive development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute an unprecedented global agreement to build a future that is sustainable and inclusive for all. The inclusive nature of the 2030 Agenda provides a unique opportunity to develop policies that benefit persons with disabilities.
Participants noted that poverty and inequality experienced by persons with disabilities are often due to barriers such as lack of accessibility of physical and virtual environments, discrimination, stigma and negative attitudes towards persons with disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities continue to face multiple discrimination which limits their participation in the society. To overcome these challenges, many countries integrated disability into national planning, strategies, and programmes to promote equal participation of persons with disabilities in the society particularly in the areas of education, health, and employment.
A panelist emphasized the importance of including persons with disabilities in humanitarian situations as they are likely to become invisible in places such as refugee camps and detention settings. Across many cultures, there are many reasons individuals who do not volunteer to share about their disabilities, particularly women and children, who are vulnerable to violence. To include persons with disabilities in humanitarian situations, it is important to consider impairment or health condition as well as the environmental barriers that create disability, such as the location of persons with disabilities relative to services that are available. In planning disaster risk reduction, it is crucial to understand where persons with disabilities live. The International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health (ICF) seeks to capture these elements.

Many States shared their initiatives on disability-inclusive development. Inter-ministerial mechanisms on disability were established in Argentina and Guatemala. Indonesia adopted a law to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities, and established a national commission for promoting the participation of persons with disabilities in the society. National development plan of Indonesia includes improving accessibility; participation in political, social, and cultural aspects; promoting inclusive development in guideline in the national budget and planning; enhancing accessibility in public infrastructure and information; enable environment for private sector and enterprises to come up with initiatives for inclusion of persons with disabilities; equal access to education, healthcare services, and employment. Kenya, through its National Council of Disability set up a programme to support persons with disabilities including exemption of tax to maximize their income. Romania provides support to persons with disabilities and their family in accessing to healthcare services. Costa Rica promoted access to information and communication technology (ICT) and to health and rehabilitation services. Sudan considers prevention of disabilities is crucial and is building capacity of the Ministry of Health to set up a preventive initiative and to discover disability at the early stage. European Union enacted the European Accessibility Act which aims to improve the functioning of the internal market for accessible products and services by removing barriers created by divergent legislation.

Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda

The Sustainable Development Goals require States to collect data disaggregated by disability in order to monitor and evaluate the implementation. Similarly, Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) also calls for statistics and data collection on disability. Many participants addressed the lack of data and statistics on disability and echoed the importance of validated methodologies to collect consistent and comparable data. The United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD) clarified that the tools of both the Washington Group as well as those of WHO serve different but complementary roles in terms of data collected. Use of one or the other would be determined based on national needs for data. For example, while the Short Set of the Washington Group is widely acknowledged as an appropriate tool for data disaggregation by disability status, a brief version of the WHO Model Disability Survey can be used for the same purpose as well. There is diversity in national situations with countries being at different levels of statistical development and that this diversity needs to be taken into account in planning for national statistical capacity building.

Approaches to promoting evidence-based approach for disability-inclusive development

A number of States shared information about their efforts to advance disability-inclusive development through evidence-based approach. For example, in China, a series of survey was conducted to obtain more information on persons with disabilities and their specific needs, and currently building a big data system on the basis of the survey. Namibia has a Disability Council that coordinates on disability and has statistics that pertains to persons with disability and how they benefit from the basic services. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Kenya, and Mexico conducted national surveys on the prevalence of persons with disabilities in their countries. Sudan set up a council for persons with disabilities chaired by the Prime Minister. South Africa currently pilots an equality index to identify imparity between persons with disabilities and persons without disability in employment, education, and political representations.

A panelist suggested the following for effective statistical monitoring for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: (i) creating an assessment index system for sustainable development of persons with disabilities; (ii) establish a forum on sustainable development of persons with disabilities in CSocD to enhance international exchange and cooperation; and (iii) set up a World Disability Organization for the voices of persons with disabilities to be heard. Some delegations emphasized the need to strengthening national capacity in data collection on disability. Sudan suggested setting up a specialized agency for persons with disabilities within the United Nations. Cuba called for more enhanced international cooperation for mobilization of resources for persons with disabilities. The importance of including older persons and addressing linter-linkage between disability and ageing were also highlighted.