Our Perspectives


Sustainable development includes people of all abilities

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A young boy draws on a mural to commemorate International Children's Day in Cambodia. Photo: Bona Khoy/UNICEF Cambodia).

The 2015 International Day of Persons with Disabilities highlights that inclusion matters and emphasizes the critical importance of access and empowerment for people of all abilities to participate in public life. 

Today persons with disabilities constitute approximately 15 percent of the global population, and more than 80 percent of them live in developing countries. Still they encounter discrimination and obstacles in accessing the labour market, transportation, education and health services, and face a very high risk of falling into poverty.

Discriminatory attitudes, approaches and stigma-related barriers limit their full participation in society and in development on an equal basis with others - an essential component to create stable societies that reduce inequalities.

In order to bring down existing barriers, it is important to focus on empowerment of persons of all abilities. In Egypt, UNDP is helping economically excluded persons with disabilities to find jobs and develop skills with a focus on ICT-based solutions.

UNDP is also facilitating discussions on designs for integrated living by bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders including persons with disabilities, engineers and designers to produce tangible solutions to aid persons with disabilities in leading easier, inclusive and integrated lives.  In Ukraine, UNDP is sharing international experiences and best practices on Universal Design to further discussions on how policies and community actions can ensure social inclusion of people with disabilities.

Cambodia’s Disability Rights Initiative aims to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities, including increasing opportunities for participation in social, economic, cultural and political life. The programme supports the implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan and works to strengthen the ability of disabled people’s organizations to effectively represent and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.  

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has given the UN system and governments a formidable framework to uphold the dignity of persons with disabilities and ensure that they have equitable access to development gains in all spheres of life. As the development branch of the UN system and an organization committed to human development and inclusive growth, UNDP’s mandate requires us to consider the various ways UNDP can promote the CRPD and the rights of persons with disabilities.

2015 has been a critically important year for development. The Sustainable Development Goals have set an important framework for dignity, for people and the planet. Member States have pledged that no one will be left behind in this collective journey to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Fully achieving the new global development agenda means also addressing and better understanding disability as a driver of social inequality and exclusion, and this must be done by advancing disability-inclusive development.

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