Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this year’s Asia-Pacific Commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the co-organizers of this Commemoration: the Australian Embassy; NOVA Employment Focus on Ability Film Festival, the World Food Programme; and the Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disabilities.
The region is at an exciting juncture in our journey towards disability-inclusive societies.
Two months ago, ESCAP members and associate members, organizations of persons with disabilities, United Nations entities and others gathered in Jakarta and adopted the Jakarta Declaration on the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2023-2032.
As we look forward to beginning the fourth Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities in a few weeks, today’s commemoration offers an opportunity for us to celebrate our achievements and to begin to lay the foundation for the work to come.
As part of the Commemoration, ESCAP is pleased to launch the publication: A Three-Decade Journey towards Inclusion: Assessing the State of Disability-Inclusive Development in Asia and the Pacific.
The publication illustrates that while the Asia-Pacific region has made progress, but is still far from fulfilling our commitment to “Make the Right Real” for persons with disabilities.
We have yet to realize their right to employment, health, education, independent living, protection in disasters or participation in public and political life.
The publication, however, also offers hope. It highlights numerous examples of governments working together with persons with disabilities.
Through these partnerships, they seek to understand better the barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating on an equal basis and to design new ways of dismantling these barriers.
Many of these examples are in line with the global theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is: Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.
As the region and the world face the concurrent crises of climate change, COVID-19 recovery and rising costs, we need transformative and innovative solutions to inclusively respond to these challenges.
The Jakarta Declaration builds on the work of the previous three Asian and Pacific Decades of Persons with Disabilities while considering new opportunities.
I would like to briefly highlight a few of the Jakarta Declaration areas for action that are in line with the global theme:
First, accessibility is the key to unlocking the full participation of persons with diverse disabilities in all aspects of life. We must build on the technologies available to us to design new methods of removing barriers to accessibility.
Second, the private sector, with its resources, technological innovations and talent, offers a chance for us to catalyze transformational change. Workforces, supply chains, infrastructure and products could all benefit from the application of universal design principles.
Third, we must always ensure the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in both disability-specific and general policy processes. The perspective and experiences of persons with diverse disabilities can illuminate innovative approaches to persistent challenges.
The Jakarta Declaration also calls attention to the influence of media and the entertainment sector on the promotion of diversity and the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
As part of today’s commemoration, we will have the chance to view several short films which showcase this power.
Thanks to the support of the Australian Embassy, we will watch some of the winners of the “Focus on Ability” film festival. This festival uses films to challenge people’s beliefs and perceptions about the lives of people with disabilities.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s commemoration shows us the diversity of the regional community engaged in disability-inclusive development by bringing together representatives of governments, UN entities, organizations of persons with disabilities and other civil society actors.
We stand ready to continue collaborating with a variety of partners and to support member States in the implementation of the Jakarta Declaration.
By working together across sectors and areas of expertise, we can realize our renewed commitment to “Make the Right Real” for persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.