Sustainable Development Agenda 2030: Spotlight on Disability

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been adopted in September 2015 by the member states of the United Nations. The new Agenda came into effect on 1 January 2016 and will define and guide global development for the next 15 years. Its principle of universality means that all states commit themselves to implement the Agenda, including in their national contexts and international cooperation.

At the heart of the Agenda are 17 thematic goals – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and their 169 corresponding targets. The SDGs have been developed in a multi-lateral process which spanned more than two years and saw the involvement of governments, international organisations, civil society and other stakeholders.

The principle ‘leave no one behind’, which was coined during the negotiations, is crucial throughout the whole implementation period of the Agenda. It means that the SDGs have to include all groups of society and have to ensure the participation of all people. 
‘Leaving no one behind’ is of particular importance to people belonging to vulnerable groups. 15% of the world’s population are persons with disabilities and their majority (80%) lives in low-income countries. Regardless of the obvious link between poverty and disability, persons with disabilities were completely left out from the SDGs’ predecessor framework, the Millennium Development Goals, which reinforced their marginalisation and discrimination.

The new Agenda includes several important references to disabilityi, including in the goals and targets on education, employment, reduced inequality, sustainable cities and communities and data collection. In the course of implementation and reporting of the Agenda, governments and all other stakeholders have to respect and truly live disability inclusion in the design, implementation and review of all SDG programmes. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an important compass to ensure accessibility and inclusion in all programmes.

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