During the week of 10th – 18th March EUD participated in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD). The RFSD is an annual event which is dedicated to discussing how to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in our region. The Regional Forum offered seven days of SDG action with 12 virtual peer learning round tables, followed by the Forum’s hybrid plenary sessions. The 2021 Regional Forum also gave space to a range of discussions during the side events and various pre-meetings, such as the Civil Society pre-meeting.
EUD together with the European Disability Forum participated in the Forum as part of the Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism’s (RCEM) constituency of persons with disabilities. This year French Council of Disabled People for European Affairs (CFHE) also joined our constituency.
Prior to the RFSD the RCEM constituency of persons with disabilities advocated the Forum to become more accessible for deaf participants, as previously it did not provide interpreting in International Sign. We were very pleased to see that the UN ECE lived up to its commitment of not leaving the deaf participants behind the discussions on the delivery of the SDGs in our region and for the first time has provided interpreting in International Sign. This not only gave more visibility for the importance of accessibility through sign language, but also made it possible for EUD Executive Director to represent the civil society in Europe and deliver the joint statement in International Sign during the plenary session. EUD would like to thank the UN ECE for making the Forum more accessible for deaf participants and highlights that accessibility in all of its senses must continue playing a key role to ensure fully inclusive processes.