United Nations launches Asia-Pacific Disability-Inclusive Business Award

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in cooperation with the Nippon Foundation and the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability launched a disability-inclusive business award today during a high-level intergovernmental meeting on disability in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

The pioneering “ESCAP-Sasakawa Asia-Pacific Business Award” seeks to publicly recognise and reward businesses that demonstrate good practices in engaging or catering to, the needs of persons with disabilities in their business operations; to raise awareness of the opportunities available for the private sector to include persons with disabilities in their business operations; and to catalyse Asia-Pacific leadership in disability-inclusive business.

The new Award is driven by the concept of a disability-inclusive business that views disability as a core part of the business model and value proposition of an enterprise. Unlike corporate social responsibility, it is neither charity nor an afterthought but an integral part of the business model.

ESCAP research finds that 40 percent of persons with disabilities have families to support and struggle to make ends meet. The disability-inclusive business model empowers persons with disabilities and their families to determine their own destiny and engage in social and economic life. 

Disability-inclusive business has the potential to transform the lives of persons with disabilities through the provision of employment opportunities, as well as goods and services to excluded consumer groups. It can also help Governments achieve their commitments concerning the employment of persons with disabilities, by harnessing the resources and reach of the private sector.

In Asia and the Pacific, there are 650 million persons with disabilities, a market twice the size of the euro zone. By catering to the needs of persons with disabilities, enterprises can expand their market share and tap into a new pool of potential customers representing sizeable purchasing power. As potential employees, persons with disabilities have special expertise and tacit knowledge that can help businesses reach a larger customer base. 

The Award launch was held during the “High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Implementation of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012” convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Korea in Incheon from 29 October to 2 November.

The first Award will be conferred in late 2013, marking the first year of the new Asian and the Pacific Decade for Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022.