Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Opening Statement at the
High Level Forum on Disability Inclusion and Accessible Urban Development
Co-organized by UNDESA-DSPD and the Government of Ecuador

Your Excellency Mr. Fernando Guerrero, Executive Director of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development,
Your Excellency Ms. Fang Liu, Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization,
Your Excellency Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to this High Level Forum on Disability Inclusion and Accessible Urban Development, co-organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development of Ecuador.

I would like to express my great appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Fernando Guerrero and his ministry for the close collaboration with my Department on the organization of this Forum.

I also wish to acknowledge the distinguished global experts and participants from all over the world who have joined us today.

DESA serves as the focal point on disability within the United Nations system. We promote the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and development through supporting intergovernmental processes, initiating and contributing to research and building networks and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

In this capacity, we have had the privilege to work with the Government of Ecuador to support the drafting and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, more recently, to promote the inclusion of disability during the negotiations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In addition, the Government of Ecuador and DESA have been working closely to strengthen digital governance, promote effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, and ensure effectively integrated and coherent development policy.
In 2013, in the context of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development, DESA initiated its first Forum on Disability and Development. The Forum has provided a unique space for policy-makers, practitioners and technical experts to address complex global issues from the disability perspective, sharing their ideas and experiences to develop practical solutions.

Following the success of this first forum, similar initiatives were undertaken in conjunction with major global conferences, such as the UN Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in March 2015, in Sendai, Japan, as well as the UN World Humanitarian Summit last May, in Istanbul, Turkey.

These efforts resulted in new multi-sectoral networks, mainstreaming the disability perspective across the development, human rights and humanitarian spheres.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tomorrow, world leaders will take an important step forward towards sustainable and inclusive urbanization for the next 25 years. The New Urban Development Agenda promises to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind in the world’s growing urbanization.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights the importance of the inclusion of disability in urban development. More specifically, Sustainable Development Goal 11 calls for inclusive cities and human settlements. And under this Goal, two targets are directly linked to inclusive and accessible urban development.

With the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, and in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the international community is establishing a new framework for inclusive, accessible and sustainable development for all.

While the commitment to accessibility is clear, we have to ensure that it is effectively implemented. With this in mind, this Forum focuses on “how to take specific steps” toward disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable urban development from a practical standpoint. Our distinguished experts at this Forum will share their diverse experiences and develop actionable recommendations for a way forward.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Achieving a truly inclusive and transformative New Urban Agenda requires a holistic and people-centered approach. We need to engage persons with disabilities as both agents and beneficiaries of change, and as leaders in the new urban development agenda.

There are already many promising and good practices in cities and communities in both developing and developed countries. We have to learn from them, and build on them.

Again, I wish to thank all participants at our Forum today.

Let us join our efforts and make our cities more accessible and inclusive all over the world.

I thank you.

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