Statement at the United Nations General Assembly, High-Level Meeting on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda

April 29, 2022 8:37 am Published by

Hannes speaking at the UN Meeting, with an additional image of the UN Assembly Room, looking down from the balcony

Hannes Lagrelius, Program Officer, Global Program for Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development and the team from World Blind Union attended the High-Level Meeting (HLM) on the implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) at the United Nations this week. The UN HLM sets policy directions and programmatic initiatives from urban stakeholders and put forward concrete commitments for the next two years. The New Urban Agenda can help to mainstream disability-inclusion and accessibility across regional, national, and local levels in synergy with considerations for urban resilience, safety, and climate action.

Hannes had the opportunity to address the meeting, his statement is following.

I am speaking to you today on behalf of the World Blind Union, a founding member of the International Disability Alliance, and for the GAP-PCG Persons with Disabilities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep structural inequalities. Persons with disabilities represent more than 15 per cent of our population and have been amongst the hardest hit during the pandemic.

Dangerous narratives have been emerging that persons with disabilities cannot contribute to the COVID-19 response and recovery, make their own decisions and more worryingly, that their lives are not considered as worth saving compared with others. Directly contradicting the UN CRPD and all other human instruments.

It has become evident that the global aspirations to ‘leave no one behind’ must be transformed into accelerated actions if we are genuine about achieving change, addressing discrimination and accessibility barriers which sustain inequalities and exclusion in our cities and communities.

Building Back Better and delivering on the New Urban Agenda requires:

  • Realising human rights for all and fully align with the CRPD, recognising accessibility is a right and precondition for inclusion. Recognizing that a Universal Design approach benefit society as a whole.

  • Ensuring participation of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPD) in urban development processes at all levels, ensuring our diverse voices and experiences are accounted for.

  • Ensuring that disability inclusion is mainstreamed across governance levels, policies and programs as key to unlock equal opportunities and achieve inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities for all.

  • It is time to act now to Build Back – Together, to be part of the change, to learn from what worked and what has not, and what can be done differently. We call upon all urban stakeholders to model the highest level of accountability to persons with disabilities and ensure that inclusion and accessibility principles set down by the CRPD are met.

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This post was written by John Lalley