EDF brought a European perspective to the High Level Political Forum in New York

New York ,
20 July 2017
Discussion between presenters at the side event

On Thursday 13 July 2017, EDF Board Member Thorkild Olesen spoke at our side-event during the High Level Political Forum in New York, along with disability activists Judith Umoh (Nigeria), Jose Maria Viera (Argentina) and Eeva Tupi (Finland). The side-event was entitled "Sharing national experiences of persons with disabilities regarding multiple & cross-cutting discrimination as core issues contributing to poverty". It was organised by the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities for Sustainable Development, in collaboration with EDF, the Disabled People's Organisation Denmark (DPOD) and the African Disability Forum (ADF).

Missions from various countries - Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Germany and Nigeria - also contributed to the event as well as the European Commission who o-sponsored and spoke during the event.

Thorkild Olesen provided an overview of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe, followed by recommendations to ensure the real participation of persons with disabilities in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. He highlighted the Europe Union (EU) accession to the United Nations Convention to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and asked for the EU to also submit a voluntary review next year to follow-up on SDGs implementation in the region. Thorkild Olesen offered to work with the EU on a disability-responsive implementation of the SDGs, emphasizing the need for an EU plan of action to showcase the commitment to the SDGs in the region.

Moreover, he explained that decisions in the EU and in all European countries must be guided by knowledge. For instance, Eurostat must engage in targeted measures to collect further evidence and accelerate the monitoring of the SDGs, using the Washington Group set of questions to allow comparability of data. Evidence must also be collected on persons with disabilities who are at higher risk of being left out of development than others, with for instance persons who are living in institutions and persons who are homeless. Private companies must further develop assistive devices and form partnerships with organisations of persons with disabilities to support equal and independent living of persons with disabilities.

SDGs must be reflected in budget, at the regional, national and local levels. An EU plan of action has to have targets and indicators as well as a timeline since we currently experience a lack of coherency and coordination between sectors. Thorkild Olesen explained "We cannot continue to waste resources, time and people’s lives simply because we did not find a way to organize ourselves!"

Finally, Jesus Orus Baguena from the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development explained the efforts of the Commission to support the implementation of the SDGs and the CRPD. He highlighted their work with EDF and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), taking for example the project "Bridging the Gap" in which EDF and IDDC are involved. Mr Orus Baguena concluded by encouraging new partnerships that go beyond governments, agencies and institutions, with the real participation of organisations of persons with disabilities.

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