Disability inclusion and the sustainable development goals

18 July 2017

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability report reveals weak progress regarding disability inclusion efforts in developing countries.
  • Disabled people could be left behind by a lack of support for them in national development plans and strategies, or in monitoring about results.
  • Report launch coincides with High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on SDG progress in New York on Monday 17 July.

International efforts to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people are being compromised by a lack of focus on the specific needs of disabled people and other marginalised groups.
Shortcomings in national development plans and strategies of developing countries could put various disability related commitments within the SDG’s at risk.

The report — Disability inclusion and the sustainable development goals — points to a general lack of detail on how disabled people will be included in national development plans. There is also a lack of clarity about how inclusive national budgets are when it comes to disability and weak engagement of disabled groups in designing, implementing and monitoring their country’s development plans.

The report makes a number of recommendations to strengthen the role of disabled groups in achieving sustainable development goals and in building capacity at grass roots and national levels.

Research involved interviews with other disabled organisations and a combination of data collection and reviews of strategic documents. The report comes a month after a joint study between Leonard Cheshire and UNGEI (The United Nations Girls Education Initiative) — Still Left Behind — gained widespread recognition after launching at the UN. This identified continued barriers to disabled girls accessing education in developing countries. 

Ahead of the launch of the new report, Ola Abu Alghaib, Leonard Cheshire’s head of policy influencing said:

‘Further work is needed if we are to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the SDG’s.

‘Voluntary National Reviews (VNR’s) offer a window into the progress made, but also a stark reminder of how DPO’s and persons with disabilities generally are excluded from engaging in national thinking around plans and policies that are of key concern to them, and if that continues it’ll put disabled people at risk of being left behind and that’s against all the principles and vision of the 2030 agenda globally.’

Together 2030, a civil society initiative committed to accelerating the achievement of the SDG’s, is holding a side event around the HLPF, featuring Ola Abu Alghaib, who is also a member of the initiative’s ‘Core Group’, where the report will be launched.

The event — Open, inclusive, participatory and transparent: How can voluntary national reviews support the pledge to ‘leave no one behind’ — will discuss how Voluntary National Reviews (VNR’s) can support the pledge stated at the 2016 HLPF.

The event will feature representatives from governments who’ve volunteered themselves for national reviews; Bangladesh and Kenya are issuing theirs this year, Zambia next, while the review from Sierra Leone was released in 2016.  The four make up a third of the countries where Leonard Cheshire Disability undertake a combination of inclusive education and livelihood programmes, enabling the charity to offer a unique perspective on the themes discussed.

The 2030 agenda to meet sustainable development goals includes a commitment that persons with disabilities are included in improvements around issues such as access to education, employment, reducing inequality and creating inclusive, safe cities.   

Leonard Cheshire Disability aims to improve lives and promote independence for more than 100,000 people with disabilities across Africa and Asia.  Active in over a dozen countries, Leonard Cheshire’s international programmes on inclusive education and livelihoods include the enrolment of over 2000 girls with disabilities into education across south west Kenya.

Lucy Awuor is a recent example of how this work is changing lives.

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Note to editors

High Level Political Forum Side Event:  Open, inclusive, participatory and transparent

In the 2030 Agenda, all Member States committed to a robust, voluntary, effective, participatory, transparent and integrated follow-up and review framework that will help countries to maximise and track progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

A key principle of these follow-up and review processes at all levels, committed to by all countries, is that these processes will be ‘open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people’ (paragraph 74d), and they will ‘have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind’ (paragraph 74e).

This side event will seek to gather the participation of Member States, civil society, academia and other stakeholders to reflect experiences, challenges and opportunities of implementing the 2030 Agenda at the national level and how VNRs are contributing (or not) to the national accountability cycle.

Together 2030

Together 2030 is a global, action-oriented initiative aiming to generate and share knowledge on the implementation and accountability of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and project the voices of different civil society and stakeholders around the world on the challenges and opportunities of implementing this Agenda.

Together 2030 was set up in December 2015 as a self-organised civil society initiative to promote national implementation and track progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.