Disability set to rise in development priorities after 2015

23 July 2014

We are extremely pleased that disability features prominently in the final outcome document of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, which was published earlier this week. This document sets out 17 proposed goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. There are nine specific references to disability in total, and a strong emphasis on inclusion and equalities throughout.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is one of several disability organisations and networks that have been campaigning to make sure that disability is included the new set of goals. There is absolutely no mention of disability in the current Millennium Development Goals, and therefore no way of measuring the impact they have had on people with disabilities.

For far too long, people with disabilities have remained invisible in international development. The international community is waking up to the fact that the goals of ending extreme poverty and sustainable development cannot be achieved without including people with disabilities. Over 400 million people with disabilities are still living in extreme poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals provide a golden opportunity to put this right.

We now need to do everything we can to ensure that the final set of goals, which will be agreed in September 2015, is inclusive of disability. Intergovernmental negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals will kick off this September during the next session of the United Nations General Assembly. There is likely to be a great deal of bargaining between member states and we need to make sure that the references to disability are not watered down.

The next milestone to look out for is the publication of the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report towards the end of the year. This report will bring together the recommendations of various experts including the Open Working Group and the High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The strong emphasis on disability from both of these means that it will be very hard to ignore. We will be keeping a close eye on the process throughout and making sure that efforts to ensure poverty eradication and sustainable development no longer leave out people with disabilities.

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