International Disability Alliance (IDA)
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: International Disability Alliance (IDA)
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Civil society (1 hits),

Full Submission


Member Organizations: Disabled Peoples' International, Down Syndrome International, Inclusion International, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People, World Blind Union, World Federation of the Deaf, World Federation of the DeafBlind, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Arab Organization of Disabled People, European Disability Forum, Red Latinoamericana de Organizaciones no Gubernamentales de Personas con Discapacidad y sus familias (RIADIS), Pacific Disability Forum

Draft IDA contribution to the Rio+20 Conference


Persons with disabilities need to be considered in all initiatives that are undertaken in the area of sustainable development at international and national level.

To ensure this, the Rio + 20 Conference outcome document must include references to persons with disabilities.

IDA and its members are exploring together with other stakeholders, including some UN agencies, the convening of a side event on sustainable development and the rights of persons with disabilities during the Rio + 20 Conference.

IDA would also like to remind that a Conference like this needs to be fully accessible to persons with disabilities, both in terms of access to the facilities and within the premises, as well as related to access to all the information produced by this Conference, including the official website of this Conference. Too often, Conference like this are not organized in an accessible way, excluding therefore many persons with disabilities from participating in these events.

Population with disabilities and the consequences of exclusion

The recentlypublished World Report on Disability1 produced by the WHO and World Bank has updated the statistics on persons with disabilities, indicating that one out of 7 persons, i.e. one billion persons, have a disability.

Sustainable development goals cannot be achieved if such an important group of the population is not adequately taken into account in national and international actions in this area.

1World Bank and World Health Organization, World Report on Disability, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2011, at pp. 237-9.

Like in many other areas, including the MDGs, persons with disabilities have been largely invisible in the sustainable development agenda. The new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which has already now been ratified by 105 Member States of the UN and by the European Union, states very clearly in its article 4 that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations need to be consulted on all policies affecting them. Sustainable development initiatives cannot be an exception to this.

Poverty eradication and persons with disabilities

Poverty eradication is one of the key issues on the agenda of the Rio + 20 Conference.

It is a commonly accepted fact that persons with disabilities are overrepresented among persons living in poverty and extreme poverty worldwide.

This has been confirmed again by the recently published World Report on Disability produced by the WHO and World Bank, which noted that "adults with disabilities tend to be poorer than those without disabilities". Furthermore, the World Report reminds how the cost of exclusion of persons with disabilities affects the gross domestic product.

The need for coherence and consistency of different global initiatives, all of which need to include persons with disabilities

There are a number of important initiatives (in place or being negotiated) at the global level all of which are relevant to persons with disabilities.

While poverty eradication is an objective in all these initiatives, more needs to be done to establish a coherent approach across initiatives, all of which are also related to sustainable development.

MDGs and post-2015 framework

The outcome document of the 2010 MDG Review Summitincludes a number of references to persons with disabilities in recognition of the fact that the MDGs in general and MDG 1 in particular cannot be reached if persons with disabilities are excluded from these initiatives. As an example of this, the World Report on Disability stressed that MDG 2 cannot be achieved without ensuring access to education for children with disabilities.

Thus paragraph 28 of this document indicates that: ?We also recognize that policies and actions must focus on the poor and those living in the most vulnerable situations, including persons with disabilities, so that they benefit from progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In this respect there is a particular need to provide more equitable access to economic opportunities and social services.

Even more relevant issubparagraph d) of paragraph 70 which refers to sustainable development and marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities:

?(d) Pursuing job-intensive, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development to promote full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women, indigenous people, young people, people with disabilities and rural populations, and promoting small-and medium-sized enterprises through initiatives such as skills enhancement and technical training programmes, vocational training and entrepreneurial skills development. Employers and workers? representatives should be closely associated with these initiatives;?

Subparagraph v) reminds us about the extreme vulnerability of many persons with disabilities in the area of food security:

?(v) Making special efforts to meet the nutritional needs of women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities, as well as those living in vulnerable situations, through targeted and effective programming;?

These important references need to be the first step towards an adequate inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the international framework that will be established for the post-2015 period.

Social Protection Floor Initiative

IDA welcomes the decision taken by the ILO Labour Conference in 2011 to produce an ILO recommendation on a Social Protection Floor.

This initiative has a very important potential to address poverty in developing countries through the provision of a number of basic services as well as cash benefits. IDA is following closely the start of the negotiation process towards this important document, in order to ensure that persons with disabilities will benefit from this initiative.

The need for an approach that promotes participation (and not dependence) of persons with disabilities is central to our demand in this area.

Global Pact for Jobs

The other key global initiative resulting from the global financial and economic crisis, the Global Pact for Jobs, is also extremely relevant to persons with disabilities.

It is widely accepted (see also evidence in the World Report on Disability) that persons with disabilities have much higher levels of unemployment and much lower levels of activity rates compared with the general population.

Aid effectiveness

IDA will be present at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan at the end of November 2011 in order to ensure that aid effectiveness, which started with the Paris Declaration and continued with the Accra Agenda for Action, respects disability-rights inclusive development.

All too often, international co-operation in general, and official development aid in particular, is provided in such a way that it further discriminates against and excludes persons with disabilities.

Development cannot be effective or sustainable if it excludes a large part of the population.

The need to ensure that international co-operation is inclusive of the rights of persons with disabilities is reflected in article 32 of the CRPD, the only UN human rights treaty with a stand-alone article on international co-operation.

The three pillars of sustainable development are relevant for persons with disabilities

All three pillars of sustainable development (environmental, economic and social) have a great impact on persons with disabilities.

The UN Secretary-General Report on the Objective and themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development recommends that the Preparatory Committee:

"(b) Continue to give high priority to policies that directly aim at poverty reduction, such as investments in education and access to basic services such as water, sanitation and energy;

(f) Put in place social safety nets that support incomes and limit the impacts of unemployment on long-term outcomes such as access to education;"

All those policies and investments should include persons with disabilities.

It is crucial that sustainable development does not further hide persons with disabilities. As highlighted by the World Report on Disability, "children and youth with disabilities are less likely to start school or attend school than other children. They also have lower transition rates to higher levels of education. A lack of education at an early age has a significant impact on poverty in adulthood".

The UN Secretary-General recommends in his report that the Preparatory Committee: ?(c) Prioritize green economy policies that have the potential to deliver socialbenefits;?. The green economy has a huge potential to create new jobs and this opportunity should be seized to also address the employment situation of persons with disabilities. There are examples, albeit very insufficient, of persons with disabilities working in the green economy, thus showing the important contribution persons with disabilities can make in this area.

It is also a fact that persons living in poverty are the most affected by environmental issues, including the consequences of climate change.

Public procurement policies play an important role in ensuring that sustainable development is taken into account in the different initiatives supported by the public sector. There are good examples of public procurement being used to promote environmental objectives and also some, but still far too few, examples of how public procurement can support social issues, including accessibility for persons with disabilities to any infrastructure, as well as employment of persons with disabilities.

Any initiatives in the area of sustainability evaluation and reporting must include the impact of initiatives on persons with disabilities.

Conclusion: good governance through the involvement of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations

The Rio + 20 guidance document refers to the objective of the Conference to revise also the institutional framework at international level dealing with sustainable development.

In this respect, IDA would like to insist that the meaningful involvement of Civil society, including organizations that represent population groups directly affected by these policies, like persons with disabilities, need to be part of this new framework.

The new standard of good governance established by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can serve as a good example for other global processes, which are still too often lacking adequate participation of those populations that are most affected. The direct participation of these constituencies will improve the quality and effectiveness of decisions taken and will prevent leaving large groups of the population out of these initiatives.

Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New