Local Action for Universal Inclusion, Accessibility and building #Cities4All

World Enabled
Dec 3, 2019 · 5 min read
UCLG Congress posing at the Townhall in Durban 2019

Today we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, noting the 11 years since the Convention on the Rights of Persons Disabilities’ (CRPD) entry into force and the 1 year of anniversary since the launch of the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities.

Cities are one of humankind’s greatest inventions and offer numerous opportunities for human development but also presents a variety of challenges and risks which must be addressed. One of these risks is the exclusion of 15% of the global population who are persons with disabilities, of which over half now live in cities in towns around the world. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda also recognizes the importance of urban development through its Goal 11 which specifically highlights the need to build inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities. Across the targets of all 17 SDGs the majority, 65%, of them will only be achieved with effective engagement and in close coordination with local and regional governments.

Recognizing these trends, the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities is a declaration that aligns key commitments to accessibility, universal design and inclusion within United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, and the World Health Organization’s Age-friendly Cities and Communities Initiative. It affirms the rights of 1 billion women, men, girls and boys with disabilities and the increasing share of the global population aged 60 or older that experience barriers to their equitable participation in society. This global call for action lays at the core of the #Cities4All campaign.

UCLG Congress in Durban 2019

From the 11th to the 15th November the growing community of the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities, particularly signatory cities, the Disability Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) Network and the General Assembly of Partners Older Persons Partner Constituency Group; actively participated in the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) World Summit of Local & Regional Leaders in Durban, South Africa.

In preparation of the Summit World Enabled prepared the Policy Paper on Inclusive and Accessible Cities, with the support of the signatories of the Compact and the DIAUD Network members. Following the mantra the Summit “Cities Are Listening”, the policy recommendations from the paper were debated during the Townhall on Inclusive and Accessible Cities. The Townhall was moderated by John Paul Cruz of World Enabled and included speakers:

  • Maria Soledad Cisternas, UN Special Envoy on Accessibility and Disability
  • Mr. Yousef Shawarbeh, Mayor of Amman
  • Ms. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, President of Nouackchott Regional Council
  • Marinalva Cruz, Deputy Secretary for People with Disabilities, Sao Paulo
  • Jennifer Canaveral Guzman, CEO & Architect Urban Development Institute of Bogotá
  • Silvia Gascon, Director of Longevity Center of the Isalud University; President of La Plata Major Network.
John Paul Cruz moderating the discussions at UCLG Congress Durban 2019

In support of the policy recommendations and the debates presented in the first half of the discussion, the elected officials spoke on how their city is prioritizing inclusion and realizing accessibility, and ways in which they would like collaboratively work with partners to ensure that the services and opportunities in their city are universally accessible to all. Highlights from their interventions include:

  • Having dedicated capacity within the municipality to guarantee accessibility in the city
  • Working together with other cities to learn from best practices and develop further programs on inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons
  • Rights-based local legislation recognizing all citizens rights
  • Need for adequate resources to ensure local consultations are participatory
  • Importance of regulations on accessibility and the need for effective mechanisms to ensure the regulations are enforced

Closing the discussion, Mr John Paul Cruz summarized up key points discussed on the way forward, highlighting the importance of progressive implementation of accessibility to improve public spaces in cities, importance of local officials in championing inclusion and accessibility, increasing the capacity of the community and municipality to advocate for and coordinate on implementation of accessibility in cities, and the need for inclusion and accessibility to be adopted as core components of inclusive urban development.

Building on the outcomes of the Townhall, the DIAUD Network facilitated an Urban Lab focused on the identifying specific challenges to inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons in cities, as well as discussing solutions to identified challenges. With representatives from cities, international organizations and civil society, the participants identified a variety challenges including:

  • Lack of awareness in the community and by executive leadership
  • Lack of political support for inclusion and accessibility
  • Invisibility of persons with disabilities, particularly in employment
  • Lack of access to services in informal settlements
  • Lack of effective enforcement of local laws
  • Ageism
  • Lack of inclusive and disaggregated data to adequately inform urban policies and programs
  • Lack of an effective understanding of co-benefits of inclusion towards sustainability

Potential solutions to the above identifies included:

  • Development of educational (awareness) campaigns
  • Effective representation of target groups in leadership and government
  • Better coordination between and among departments and clear institutionalized mechanism to coordinate the departments.
  • Better information and data from the impacted group
  • Stronger urban-rural linkages
More members gathered in a circle in ongoing inclusive policy discussions

The recommendations from the political debate in the Townhall and Urban Lab were subsequently presented to the World Assembly on Local and Regional Governments by Ms Maria Soledad Cisternas, for formal adoption by the Global Task force on Local and Regional Governments. The engagement and strategic focus on inclusion and accessibility at the World Summit represents a key step towards localizing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly Article 9 on Accessibility and mainstreaming inclusion across all urban development policies and programs; towards the city that leaves no one behind.

World Urban Forum 10 (#WUF10)

The next phase activities in Compact’s timeline will be organized at the World Urban Forum 10, next February in Abu Dhabi. We look forward to engaging more partners in the developments of the Global Compact and Campaign on Inclusive & Accessible Cities, and collaboratively building #Cities4All.

#IDPD #Cities4All #Cities4Rights #CitiesAreListening

World Enabled

Written by

We are an international consulting group for the rights of #PWD. We initiate inclusive urban design through our #Cities4All campaign. Founded by @victorpineda

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