On Monday, a delegation of the European Disability Forum (EDF) was invited by the new UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Secretary General, Olga Algayerova, to meet for an informal discussion about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The meeting was a wonderful opportunity to share with Ms Algayerova EDF’s active engagement in the ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in April, in preparation of the High Level Political Forum.
These efforts were actually already acknowledged with two mentions of persons with disabilities in her speech, earlier that morning: “Civil society and academia will play a strong role in the implementation of the SDGs. Some countries in our region are making the mobilisation of civil society a defining feature of the plans for SDGs implementation, but in addition also individual citizens through their own initiatives and personal commitments can also make a meaningful contribution. Civil society plays an important role highlighting issues of particular groups, for instance people with disabilities.”
She also added: “Data is essential for evidence based policies and as a tool for different groups and their problems. However, disaggregated data by income, gender, age and disability ensure not to obscure the problems of particular groups, developing policies that leave no one behind.”
The meeting with Ms Algayerova provided the chance to highlight various opportunities for mutual collaboration. In particular, EDF shared suggestions to improve the implementation and the monitoring of the SDGs so they are inclusive of persons with disabilities at both the regional and national levels. For instance,
- we talked about the importance of referencing to persons with disabilities during discourses to showcase ECE’s political will
- we suggested Ms. Algayerova to get in touch with the new Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, Ms. María Soledad Cisternas Reyes of Chile
- we talked about the need for the systematic implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) through the SDGs, including the General Comment 3 on article 6 (women and girls with disabilities)
- we reiterated the importance of disability-inclusive Voluntary National Reviews
- we asked to push for the UN ECE statistics department and Eurostat to disaggregate regional and national data by disability, similarly to the SDGs which are disability-inclusive.
- we highlighted the importance of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development to be accessible to persons with disabilities with for instance, physical access, text captioning and sign interpreters.
Ms Algayerova was very receptive to our suggestions. She fully understood the importance to raise awareness about persons with disabilities, through the SDGs and the CRPD and the need for instance, to collect data and evidence to showcase a complex reality. EDF concluded by an invitation to Ms Algayerova next year to meet EDF members during one of our Board meetings – which Ms Algayerova accepted.