For the first time, EUD has participated in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development between the 7th and the 16th of July. The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the UN central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The HLPF, which usually consists of in-person meetings in the city of New York (USA), adopted this year an online format due to the COVID19 pandemic, which allowed EUD to participate virtually.
On the 7th of July, EUD followed the online opening speeches of the HLPF, which highlighted how the COVID-19 outbreak has evidenced the urgency of implementing the 2030 Agenda (access them here with captions). Keynote presenters included the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, Ms. Mona Juul, the Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean at the World Health Organisation, Dr. Jaouad Mahjour, and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen. Some of the presenters called for global cooperation and underlined the importance of tackling inequalities and engaging actors fighting the pandemic in the field. In her intervention, Ms. Urpilainen explained EU’s recovery plan – Next Generation EU – and called for more international partnerships and multilateralism (access her full speech here).
Throughout the HLPF, EUD participated in three side events organised by relevant partners through the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities.
On the 7th of July, EUD participated in a side event on the inequalities and discrimination suffered by older persons with disabilities during the COVID19 pandemic. Rosario Galarza, from the Latin American Network of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities, presented some findings of the UN report on ‘the experience of persons with disabilities with COVID-19’, such as lack of access to information in native sign languages and the communication barriers imposed by masks. You can read the full report here – EUD’s Executive Director Mark Wheatley contributed to this report. At the end of this meeting, EUD intervened and presented some of the findings of our recently launched COVID19 report, such as the isolation of deaf elderly in some EU countries, and called for the full and meaningful consultation of National Associations of the Deaf to ensure inclusive and accessible responses to future challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the 8th of July, EUD followed a side event organised by the UN Stakeholders Group of Persons with Disabilities in Sustainable Development and the International Disability Alliance titled ‘Will the SDGs Still be Relevant after the Pandemic for Persons with Disabilities?’. During the event, the participants highlighted that the implementation of the SDGs and the holistic mainstreaming of the principle ‘Leave No One Behind’ is more important than ever as persons with disabilities were disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
On the 19th of July EUD attended a virtual side event ‘Inclusion Counts – disability data in crisis respons’. During the event Mr Stefan Tromel, Senior Disability Specialist at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlighted that while designing the recovery plans and formulating the social economic response to the Covid-19 crisis, the governments must ensure that persons with disabilities are included and the recovery measures are fully inclusive. Mr Tromel highlighted that the disaggregated data is fundamental, not only to measure and assess the impact of the crisis for persons with disabilities but also to monitor the effectiveness of the recovery plans for persons with disabilities. To know whether the recovery plans are effective for persons with disabilities, Washington Set of Short Questions must be included in the surveys which would assess and monitor the recovery measures.
EUD welcomes this year’s online format, which has facilitated our participation. EUD will continue to actively advocate for the interlinkages between the UN CRPD and the 2030 Agenda. EUD will also continue to play an active role in the UN ECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, and will increase its efforts to take part in forthcoming celebrations of the UN High Level Political Forum, with the objective to remind relevant stakeholders and the wider international community of the importance to advance the rights of deaf persons and all persons with disabilities to ensure that no one is left behind.
EUD welcomes the live captioning used for the HLPF’s opening speeches. However EUD emphasises the importance of providing sign language Interpretation into International Sign in future celebrations of the HLPF, as it is the most accessible option for deaf persons in the international arena.