October 31st, 2020 is World Cities day. Under the overarching theme of Better City, Better Life, the aim of the day is to focus the international community’s attention on urbanisation as a central issue for development and to encourage cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing urban challenges towards sustainable development. The sub-theme for this year is Valuing our Communities and Cities.
On this day, the World Blind Union joins city and urban stakeholders, partners and allies in urban development to promote inclusive and accessible cities for all.
Today, more than half of all older persons and persons with disabilities, including persons who are blind and partially sighted, live in cities. In just three decades, it is expected that around 70 per cent of the world’s population will reside in cities, including an estimated 2 billion persons with disabilities and older persons.
Persons who are blind or partially sighted continue to experience accessibility barriers in their day-to-day lives as they access public transportation, public spaces, information and communication technologies, housing, employment, education, health and other services. These inequalities are putting immense pressure on local and regional governments to adapt their structures, spaces and services to meet persisting and increasing requirements for accessibility so that everyone can lead the life they choose.
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. According to our report, “AMPLIFYING VOICES: OUR LIVES, OUR SAY” (Learning from COVID-19 through the experiences of blind and partially sighted persons across the world), the pandemic has made life more challenging in many countries, particularly to persons who are blind and partially sighted. Lockdowns, restrictions on transportation and movement, changes in regulations, schedules, and the environment have inadvertently created additional barriers to an already inaccessible environment.
In commemorating the World Cities Day, we call on governments and urban development stakeholders to consider developing structures and implementing inclusive strategies to eliminate accessibility barriers to physical environment, transportation, public facilities, and services. This is in line with Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which focuses on enabling independent living of persons with disabilities and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 that focuses on aiming to make cities and human settlements inclusive particularly for persons with disabilities.
We take this opportunity to encourage policy makers and urban development stakeholders to ensure that Organisations of Persons with Disabilities, including our members representing persons who are blind and partially sighted, are adequately engaged in shaping the urban future we want and ensuring that no one is left behind.
To learn more about the World Cities Day visit the UN-Habitat website
The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org
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