The seventh anniversary of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals was recently celebrated in a scenario marked by a severe global systemic crisis. The consequences of COVID-19, a strong energy crisis, high inflation and scarcity of raw materials, in addition to the climate emergency, highlight the need to change the pace and model of development. In such a complex international context, sustainability, inclusion and climate action stand as strategic pillars on which to sustain the present and build the future of our society. In this regard, Fernando Riaño, Director for Institutional Relations and Sustainability at ONCE Social Group, recalls: “The 2030 Agenda and the SDG constitute an essential pillar to build a more sustainable and inclusive future, in which persons with disabilities ¾more than 1 billion people around the world, the “largest minority”¾ cannot be left behind. Disability is part of the equation when it comes to achieving Sustainability in its three ESG dimensions”.
Within this framework, Fundación ONCE together with the European Disability Forum and in the framework of Disability Hub Europe, have carried out an update and extension of the report already published in 2020 "The 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and disability", a document that reminds us that efforts are needed to ensure a sustainable and inclusive society that leaves no one behind.
This time, and after a thorough revision, it shines a light on the linkages between the greening of the economy and social issues, and further establishes the need to focus special attention on vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities. Sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda can only be successfully achieved if their needs are fully considered, and equal access is ensured. As Maria Tussy, Director for European Programmes at Fundación ONCE, maintains, “employment and inclusion of persons with disabilities, 100 million Europeans, must be at the core of collective efforts to promote a sustainable EU for all. The European Social Fund acts as a key instrument for this purpose under the political commitment of the EU institutions to contribute to the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs”. Despite some noteworthy progress in recent years, it is of critical importance to advance the rights of persons with disabilities in this unprecedented time of important transformations in the global economy.
In the same vein, Haydn Hammersley, Senior Social Policy Officer at the European Disability Forum, maintains: "The SDGs are evidently at the forefront of the minds of EU policy makers, since they are mentioned explicitly in the mission statements of all EU Commissioners. This is a perfect foothold to advocate strongly for the EU to take their implementation seriously, and a basis to hold them accountable for reaching the objectives set out in the SDGs. In the end, the SDGs are there also for the benefit of persons with disabilities, and we need to make use of them to make sure nobody is left behind.”
This document is focused on presenting an overview of the current situation of people with disabilities within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, based on a wide range of data linked to 14 of the 17 SDGs. More specifically, it analyzes the situation and role of persons with disabilities in achieving them, highlighting that there remains work to be done in order to create a sustainable future inclusive for all. The bottom line: despite evident progress achieved in recent years, the data indicates that persons with disabilities still suffer important disadvantages compared to the rest of the population.