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NOW IS THE TIME- Global Disability Summit

WBU Secretary General and President of All India Confederation of the Blind, Mr. Ajai Kumar Mittal, shares the highlights of First-ever Global Disability Summit held in London, UK, July 23-24, 2018
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On behalf of WBU, I had an opportunity of attending the Global Disability Summit in London.  Over 250 delegates representing DPO's, national governments, private sector, humanitarian agencies, multilateral organizations and UN bodies from all over the world attended the event.  The Summit was co-hosted by the UK Department for International Development, Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance.  The deliberations took place at Here East, Queen Elizabeth Park, London.

Under the auspice of the Summit, a Civil Society Forum was held at the same venue on 23rd July, 2018.  The Forum had three sessions, each having four to five presenters.  The first two of these sessions deliberated upon implementation of the CRPD and the 2030 agenda for persons with disabilities.  The third session was devoted to the subject of Capacity Building at National and Grassroots Levels to Advance the Realization of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The Forum concluded with a session on Looking Ahead after the Summit and Closing Remarks.  Youth representatives presented on the occasion highlights of their Charter for the Summit.

24th July was the day of the Summit.  The opening session began with welcome speeches from the leaders of the three co-hosts.  Important highlights of the session were:
  • A message from the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May, read out by the UK Secretary of State, Department for International Development;
  • Greetings from the UN Secretary General conveyed in his address by the UNDP Administrator;
  • A powerful keynote address by the President of Ecuador, perhaps the only Head of State with a disability in the world;
  • A moving percussion performance;
  • An inspiring keynote from the Chair, China Disabled Persons' Federation and President , Rehabilitation International.
Thereafter, it was the turn of plenary and spotlight sessions.  There were four plenary sessions. These sessions dealt with the following themes:
  • Dignity and Respect for All (one of the presenters here was the Vice President of Argentina, herself a person with disability);
  • Inclusive Education;
  • Routes to Economic Empowerment;
  • Technology and Innovation.
In between these plenaries, there were two spotlight (breakout) sessions.  Each of these sessions dealt with four different topics.

During the Summit, there were roundtable sessionsmfor different stakeholders/subjects--Partnership for Assistive Technology; Private Sector Partnership in Kenya; Youth Participation; Africa Disability Protocol; Humanitarian Leaders.

In addition, a large number of organizations put up their exhibits showcasing new policy and technology for persons with disabilities.

The Summit concluded with Commitments and a keynote speech from UK Secretary of State for International Development.

The final outcome document for the event is titled "The Charter for Change" which contains ten  important points.  We have been told at the concluding session that a stakeholder group will be convened to keep track of progress and produce a report one year on.

In conclusion, it must be said that "Now is the time for change, for action" and "Leaving no one behind" were the themes which recurred and reverberated through the Summit sessions.  We have now to watch how we proceed further.

Read more about the summit here​​