Leaving no one behind – persons with disabilities and the SDGs

“Societies will never achieve the SDGs without the full participation of everyone, including people with disabilities. We cannot afford to ignore or marginalize the contributions of 1.5 billion people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres earlier this year. Yet, in many countries, essential services for persons with disabilities are unavailable, or of poor quality. Data also show that poverty rates are on average 15 percentage points higher for persons with disabilities. These new numbers – connecting persons with disabilities with the 17 sustainable development goals – will be released by UN DESA in the first report of its kind, “Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities,” to be launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2018. 

One billion people, or 15 per cent of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. Many of them are still facing exclusions in today’s society: lack of accessibility in physical and virtual environments, negative attitudes, stigma and discrimination, lack of access to energy, access to assistive technology and rehabilitation and lack of measures to promote independent living.

This situation is also corroborated by the findings of the new publication, which demonstrates that persons with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most SDGs. For instance, in addition to poverty rates being higher, persons with disabilities face drawbacks in many aspects of their daily lives – when it comes to job opportunities, wages, accessibility to the workplace, to businesses and public spaces and institutions, as well as access to sanitation facilities and new technologies.

If the international community wants to keep its promise of leaving no one behind in its pursuit of realizing the SDGs, these goals have to be realized for everyone – with or without disabilities – also in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted in 2007 and which has so far been ratified by 177 States. Concrete actions are also needed to make the situation of persons with disabilities visible in policymaking.

Moreover, we need to recognize the potential of persons with disabilities as contributors to society and to enhance current efforts to mainstream their needs, rights and perspectives into the process of achieving the goals at all levels.

Highlighting many good practices and policy trends, the publication provides an overview of the progress towards the SDGs and the implementation of the CRPD. It also provides specific recommendations to advance inclusive development for all. The new publication will be launched during the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December at UN Headquarters in New York.

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