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High-Level European Regional Disability Summit

On 9th December 2021, the EUD participated in a webinar hosted by Equinet, entitled ‘Tackling On the 8th of February 2022, EUD attended an online summit entitled ‘High-Level European Regional Disability Summit: Perspectives on Pan European International Cooperation’.

The European Disability Forum (EDF) hosted the event. The summit’s purpose was to discuss how an international cooperation in the European region can include persons with disabilities. The conference featured speakers from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Disability Alliance (IDA), Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People (FFO), United Nations Human Rights Regional Office for Europe, United Nations Development Programme Europe, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Europe and Central Asia, UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Fund, and World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe.

Norway is one of the co-hosts of this year’s Global Disability Summit. Norwegian State Secretary for International Cooperation, Bjørg Sandkjær and the Secretary-General of Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People, Lilly Ann Elvestad both argued that the organisations of persons with disabilities themselves need to be in charge of the policies that aim at tackling their issues and that only through their direct involvement the society will experience the change that will last.

Mr Martin Seychell, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for International Partnerships of the European Commission, highlighted that person with disabilities face greater inequality and poverty, do not enjoy full accessibility and are more at risk of stigma and exclusion. Mr Seychell also stated that the COVID-19 crisis has further deepened inequalities between and within countries and showed that it is more important than ever to fulfil the commitments to leave no one behind. The high-level plenary discussion focused on the commitments from the international organisations to ensure disability inclusion. It was highlighted that the organisations are committed to advocate for inclusive education, greater accessibility for persons with disabilities in all areas especially in healthcare as well as employment.

In conclusion, the event was very informative, providing national perspectives from several international organisations and representative organisations of persons with disabilities. This was the first-ever European disability summit to discuss commitments related to European issues for persons with disabilities.  As Mr Yannis Vardakastanis, president of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the European Disability Forum, stated that Global Disability Summit is an opportunity to call on a variety of stakeholders to commit to change so that we can make the European society more inclusive and focus on the areas that have been neglected for too long.

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