Drawing Attention to Inclusion at the HLPF

Advocacy Officer Maggie Kern blogs from the High-Level Political Forum
Photo: Left to right - Maggie Kern, Yetnebersh Nigussie (both Light for the World), Jan Kickert (Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN). Credit: Light for the World

A week has gone by already since our Inclusion Advisor Yetnebersh, our PR officer Marianne and I (Maggie Kern) arrived in New York to participate in the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations in New York. At this global conference member states, UN organisations and civil society come together to review the progress on implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Compared to last year, attention to the Forum has increased massively: 

  • the number of states volunteering to report on their progress has doubled to 44
  • 65 high-level representatives of governments are attending
  • More than 2,400 stakeholders from civil society have registered to add their voice to the discussions

What happened during week one 

The focus of week one was on the thematic reviews of selected Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 1 no poverty, SDG 2 zero hunger, SDG3 good health and well-being, SDG 5 gender equality, SDG 9 industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 14 life below water) as well as on interlinkages, partnerships and monitoring as spelled out in SDG 17.

In the thematic sessions which featured experts from the UN, science and research, state and regional representatives an increasing number of speakers explicitly referred to the situation of persons with disabilities and to disability as one of the causes of poverty. Olga Algayerova (UN Economic Commission for Europe) emphasised the strong role of civil society and academia in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted the concerns of persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups. She spoke about the need for strong data and statistics as basis for evidence-based policies and a tool to include different groups and challenges. She said: “Disaggregated data by income, gender, age, disability is necessary to ensure not to obscure the problems of particular groups and to develop policies that leave no one behind. “

The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities

The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities which is part of the official civil society group (called Major Groups and Other Stakeholders) at the HLPF succeeded in making statements in many of the official sessions as well as in relevant side events. On Thursday the Stakeholder Group held a well-attended side event to draw attention to the multiple discrimination faced by persons with disabilities in their countries. We are grateful for the strong support extended by member states for this event. Ambassador Jan Kickert, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations, said in his opening statement: “To be able to react to the needs of persons with disabilities, we need information and data on how much persons with disabilities are affected by poverty.” Ekaete Judith Umoh, disability rights activist from Nigeria: “Disability is becoming a huge development and human rights issue. The SDGs are a window of opportunity to bring forward the rights of persons with disabilities.”

The increasing attention given to disability as a development issue was evidenced by the many supportive statements from states and regional representatives, among them Ecuador, Australia, UK, Argentina, the European Commission, and Germany.

On Friday, Yetnebersh made the following statement on data disaggregation at the side event organised by Australia which focused on closing the gender data gap and on how to include age, disability and other exclusion factors. 

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) for the first time did a live broadcast on SDG-relevant issues. Yetnebersh was among the panelists in the session on reaching the furthest behind.

On to week two

Tune in to the main sessions of the 2nd week which will focus on the voluntary national reviews of 44 countries. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities and its allies the main sessions include sign language interpretation and close captioning (subtitles): http://webtv.un.org/