On the occasion of the 2015 World Cities Day (Theme: "Designed to Live Together"), the UN Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), will organize a three-day DESA Forum on Disability and Development with a focus on disability inclusion and accessible urban development in close collaboration with UN-Habitat, ECA, the African Union Commission and civil society partners including the African Disability Forum. The Forum will bring together over 70 participants and observers, to map out the current situation for persons with disabilities in urban hubs, and will provide recommendations and best practices, which will expect to contribute to Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda.
It is estimated that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Urban development brings both great opportunity and challenges. For the world’s more than one billion persons with disabilities, too often, their needs, concerns and contributions were often neglected in urban planning, design and construction of cities in many parts of the world. Ill-planed and built urban presented significant challenges to widespread lack of access to built environments, from roads and housing, to public buildings and spaces, basic urban services, such as sanitation and water, health, education, transportation, and emergency response programs.
Lack of accessibility leads to the disadvantaged and vulnerable situations faced by persons with disabilities, leading to disproportionate rates of poverty, deprivation and exclusion. In addition, this contributes negatively to a loss of socio-economic wellbeing of the entire community. It is also important to note that developing urban infrastructures, facilities and services that are designed and built following accessibility or inclusive “universal design” principles from initial stages of planning and design incurs additional costs equaling to approximately less than 1 per cent of the total cost. The spillover benefit of accessibility however shall never be overlooked. It goes far beyond persons with disabilities to a much broader spectrum of general population, from older persons, those with temporary injuries or mobility limitation such as mothers traveling with children. Accessibility can be effectively promoted as a smart investment that contributes to sustainable and inclusive development.
World leaders recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agenda committing to making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and sustainable. In October 2016, the Third Global Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III) will take place in Quito, Ecuador, to review the progress and lessons learned and to adopt a “New Urban Agenda” that focuses on policies and strategies to provide a global framework for future urbanization.
The DESA/DSPD Forum on Disability and Development, officially launched in 2013, is an initiative of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). It aims to contribute to the on-going global efforts towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-2015 development framework and agenda, through exchange of experiences, expertise and innovative ideas to develop practical solutions for pressing issues with regard to disability-inclusion in development.
For further details, visit the website.