Persons with disabilities must be ‘put at the heart’ of international development, says conference on disability-inclusive MDGs and aid effectiveness

Persons with disabilities

Persons with disabilities must be central to international development programmes for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the ‘Conference on Disability-Inclusive MDGs and Aid Effectiveness’ said after three days of discussions co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Leonard Cheshire Disability.

“The time is now for development partners to strengthen the disability-inclusiveness of their policies and programmes in Asia-Pacific. Making a difference in the lives of the 650 million persons with disabilities in Asia-Pacific will bring us closer to meeting the MDGs globally,” said Nanda Krairiksh, Director, Social Development Division, ESCAP.

“We have a unique opportunity for disabled people to campaign for change with international policy makers to make lasting improvements to their daily lives and future opportunities. This makes this conference different from any other I have been to before,” commented Ilyas Khan, Chair of Leonard Cheshire Disability, in his opening speech at the Bangkok conference.

In almost every country surveyed, unemployment rates for persons with disabilities are higher than rates for those without disabilities. Of the 67 million children now out of school worldwide, a third have disabilities. Despite these alarming statistics, persons with disabilities were not included in the UN's original blueprint for international development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they were launched in 2000.

The Bangkok Conference brought together stakeholders at all levels in the development process – from grassroots activists in disabled people’s organizations to high-level officials of multilateral organizations – to help put disability at the heart of international development.

Ultimately, the Conference will feed into a new Asia-Pacific regional strategy to support a new decade to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, 2013-2022, as well as a post-2015 development framework. This will directly help to launch a more inclusive development model.

“Asia-Pacific is moving towards a new decade to “Make the Right Real” for persons with disabilities,” stated Ms. Krairiksh. “Through its normative and analytical work, ESCAP is supporting member states in the preparation of an outcome document to be considered by the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (Incheon, Republic of Korea, 29 October-2 November 2012). Its adoption will give Asia-Pacific MDG-style goals, targets and indicators for expediting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the development process.”

In its key recommendation, the conference said that persons with disabilities and organizations representing disability groups must be full participants in the planning, design and implementation of development goals, including those related to poverty reduction, education, gender, health, technology, disasters, environment and international cooperation.

For more information, visit www.lcdisability.org/aideffectiveness or http://www.unescap.org/esid/psis/disability/.