- The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges that no one should be left behind. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to consider people with disabilities: 1 billion people in the world and 100 million in the EU.
- Disability is included through the Agenda 2030 and is specifically mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 8, 10, 11 and 17.
- Available disaggregated data is essential to monitor the development of the SDGs.
On Tuesday October 27, Disability Hub Europe, a European initiative led by Fundación ONCE and co-funded by the European Social Fund, promoted the virtual roundtable “Disability in the 2030 Agenda and SDGs” at the European SDG Summit, led by CSR Europe, which focuses, this year, on“Impactful Partnerships to Build Back Better”.
Hosted by Fundación ONCE, the roundtable included the participation of key actors such as ILO Global Business Disability Network (ILO GBDN), Global Reporting Initiative, L’Oréal, the European Commission, and the European Disability Forum. The session hosted near a hundred attendees. Live captioning and sign language interpretation were provided by Disability Hub Europe to make the session accessible for everyone
Overall, the roundtable was an opportunity to learn about the presence of disability related targets in the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs and the relevance of disability inclusion to promote sustainable businesses and an inclusive economy. Topics such as the future of work and digitalisation, non-financial reporting and diversity and inclusion strategies were discussed during the session. The relevance of multi-stakeholder collaboration was also highlighted as a key factor.
The session was divided into three main sections: the binomial Disability and Sustainability; Working towards an inclusive society; and Reflections from key European actors.
Maria Tussy, Director of European Programmes Unit at Fundación ONCE, opened the session and highlighted the value of the European Social Fund, as a fundamental tool to promote social and labour inclusion in the EU. She was followed by Carla Bonino, CSR and Sustainability Head of Unit at Fundación ONCE and Disability Hub Europe Coordinator, who presented Disability Hub Europe, as a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at working on the binomial Disability & Sustainability and shared the main milestones achieved.
The second part of the roundtable, “Working towards an inclusive society”, had the interventions of Stefan Trömel, Senior Disability Specialist at the ILO GBDN, Thijs Reuten, Head of Policy at Global Reporting Initiative, and Margaret Johnston-Clarke, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at L’Oréal.
During their interventions, the risks of losing the progress achieved regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities due to current crisis and the enormous impact suffered were highlighted. Also, a call to action was made for businesses, stating that being truly diverse makes organisations stronger. The need to go beyond the stigma and provide accessibility, thinking both on employees and consumers with disabilities was mentioned as well. Finally, this section made emphasis on the need to include people with disabilities in the digital economy, considering their lower employment and education rates and the digital gap existing between people with and without disabilities.
In third place, the roundtable on “Reflections from European actors” had the participation of Inmaculada Placencia, Senior Expert Disability Inclusion Unit at the European Commission, and Haydn Hammersley, Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum.
The work of the European Commission based on the European Disability Strategy and on the monitoring of aspects such as poverty, employment and education was shared. In addition, accessibility was identified as an integral part of sustainability, especially in a context of an ageing population (mentioning advances linked to the Circular Economy Action Plan and Renovation Wave for Europe, for example). Finally, this section reminded the connection of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the value of the SDGs as a political framework to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities towards EU institutions.
The closing remarks reminded the fact that, according to the SDG17, working all together will allow to accomplish the pledge “to leave no one behind” and that disaggregated data by disability is fundamental.