Draft Agenda Incorporates Persons with DisabilitiesHabitat III addresses disability inclusion and accessible urban development
The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) was held October 17-20 in Quito, Ecuador. On October 16, The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa spoke at a parallel event, the High Level Meeting and Forum on Disability Inclusion and Accessible Urban Development, where he stressed the need for persons with disabilities to participate in planning and decision-making.
Stressing the importance of participation in planning
The Nippon Foundation has been calling on international organizations, national governments, NGOs, and other organizations to include persons with disabilities as active participants in national and international conferences dealing with disaster response. As an example, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, ensured that venues were accessible to facilitate participation by persons with disabilities and incorporate their opinions. This contributed to the views of persons with disabilities being reflected in the conference’s outcome documents.
The Nippon Foundation’s involvement in this effort was triggered by the findings of a survey conducted after the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in March 2011, which showed that the rate of fatalities among persons with disabilities was nearly twice that of the total fatality rate among victims. One of the reasons was that persons with disabilities were not included in the formulation and implementation of disaster-response planning. By not being recognized as primary participants, persons with disabilities have not been able to participate in deliberations at these international decision-making forums.
In his speech, Mr. Sasakawa stressed the importance of participation by persons with disabilities in urban planning as well as in disaster-response planning, pointing out that while urban planning includes input from many people, inclusiveness and accessibility have not always been a priority. He stressed that true inclusiveness means that everyone has to work to facilitate participation by persons with disabilities, and expressed his hope that the time will come when special programs on inclusiveness for persons with disabilities are no longer needed.
Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda includes input from persons with disabilities
To ensure that input from persons with disabilities was included in the output documents from Habitat III, The Nippon Foundation participated in the preparation process through a group consisting of urban development specialists and organizations of persons with disabilities. The group held weekly online meetings, with specialists from around the world participating in lively deliberations. Persons with disabilities also played key roles in the July meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Habitat III Conference (PrepCom3), held in Surabaya, Indonesia.
As a result, the Habitat III Conference’s final document, the Adopted Draft of the New Urban Agenda, makes 15 references to persons with disabilities, and in particular, Article 36 deals specifically with access for persons with disabilities to public spaces, public transport, housing, education and health facilities, public information and communication, and other public facilities and services.
The Nippon Foundation