UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for more disability-inclusive development.
COVID-19 intensified glaring inequalities and produced new threats. Persons with disabilities are losing their lives at vastly higher rates due to persistent barriers in health systems. The last two years have painfully demonstrated the urgent need to advance the rights of persons with disabilities around the world, he told the opening of the second Global Disability Summit.
There is a need for more disability-inclusive development, he said via a video link. "Persons with disabilities are often among the poorest and most disadvantaged members of the community. They must be at the front and center of our efforts. We need to act decisively to realize and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in every corner of the world and in every facet of life."
Global inequalities reverberate at the local level. When developing countries are strangled financially, people with disabilities are among the first victims. That is why the global financial system should be reformed to allow far greater investments in disability inclusion to create accessible environments and opportunities everywhere, he said.
There is a need for broader and deeper cooperation, said Guterres.
"We must take a whole-of-society approach to ensuring disability inclusion. Only by working together -- across governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector -- can we effectively implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for persons with disabilities," he said.
There is also a need for the leadership of persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities and their representative organizations, he said. "The foundation of our cooperation must be based on active consultation with persons with disabilities in their full diversity and their full inclusion in decision-making processes."
"Led by persons with disabilities, we can -- and we will -- forge partnerships, expand access to inclusive, quality education and decent work, ensure healthy lives, and create a more inclusive, just and sustainable world for all," said Guterres.
The two-day Global Disability Summit, co-hosted by the International Disability Alliance and the governments of Norway and Ghana, is being held virtually.