On Friday, 3 February 2017, NABU Representative Dr. John Dilyard was an observer at a high-level panel discussion on the topic ‘Leaving No One Behind: Poverty and Disability’ for the 55th Session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD55). Panelists included Her Excellency, Mrs. Ana Helena Chacon (Vice President of Costa Rica), Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar (Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Human Rights Council), Mr. Steen Lau Jorgensen (Director, Social Protection and Labor, at the World Bank), and Mr. Mosharraf Hossain (Director of Global Policy, Influencing & Research of ADD International). The panel was moderated by Ms. Nora Groce (Professor and Director of Univeristy College of London’s Leonard Cheshire Center for Disability and Inclusive Development.
The discussion from the panel focused on the challenges and opportunities presented by ensuring that efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 (Eradicating Poverty) included those with disabilities. A few common themes emerged from the discussion. First, that poverty, particularly extreme poverty, severely affects those with disabilities. Second, that this severe effect is not just felt by the individuals with a disability, but also on their families and caregivers. Third, that those with disabilities have far less access to education and jobs, which exacerbates their poverty. Fourth, that people with disabilities should be allowed to live in dignity, with their human rights honored and protected. And fifth, that much more data and statistics on the obstacles the disabled poor face in securing better education and jobs, as well as on the types of infrastructure, programs and support mechanisms that work best is needed.
In the interests of pushing the ‘leaving no one behind’ agenda with respect to the disabled and poverty, four recommendations were suggested. First, that a high level meeting on market-based solutions to extreme poverty and disability should be convened. Second, a new global action plan consistent with the SDGs and the needs of persons with disabilities should be developed. Third, create and deploy mechanisms to monitor the progress and implementation of the SDGs with respect to the disabled. Fourth, organize annual ‘disability sessions’ in the context of the SDGs.