Urbanization is one of the most important global trends of the 21st century. It has the potential to contribute to the “re-design” of our world supporting the creation of sustainable and inclusive cities for all. About 6.25 billion people, 15% of them with disabilities, are predicted to be living in urban centers by 2050. Urban environments, infrastructures, facilities, and services, depending on how they are planned and built, can impede or enable access, participation, and inclusion in society. As of today, persons with disabilities living in urban areas all around the world continue to face dramatic challenges to participate in their communities due to a widespread lack of accessibility to the built environment. Barriers to the physical environment and to accessible information and communication impede their enjoyment of basic urban services; from housing to roads and public spaces, from public buildings to basic urban services such as sanitation and water, health, education, transportation, emergency and disaster response and resilience. These barriers directly impact on the disproportionate rates of poverty, deprivation and exclusion faced by persons with disabilities, but also affect the development of their communities as a whole. Since 2006, with the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the international community committed to promote the inclusion and active participation of persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. Since then we have witnessed many relevant achievements, as the situation of our group has become more visible, but much more needs to be done. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a clear mandate of leaving no one behind, including those with disabilities, is an important reminder of the tasks ahead. We will fail to achieve the new international development agenda if we don’t consider disability inclusion at the starting point. To advance towards development that is inclusive of all, the CRPD and the SDGs should be used as mutually reinforcing tools. In that context the adoption of a new Urban Agenda in Habitat III, brings a great opportunity to address the structural challenges faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to access to housing and urban settings. Consideration should be given both to the human rights and development dimensions to make sure persons with disabilities are not, once again, left behind. This publication is of critical importance as it contributes a clear overview of the main issues at stake. Namely, that governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector have a role to play in ensuring that accessibility is not an afterthought but a central component of their work. It also provides guidance on how to address the accessibility lack, in a simple way supporting policy makers in designing solutions for all from the start. It is important to stress once again that there are no excuses to leaving persons with disabilities behind; our recognition as equal members of society will bring prosperity to all and cities that are respectful and safe for all human kind.
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.