On the 19th of April United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) published the Report of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) for the UNECE region on its fourth session. The RFSD is an annual meeting of the key stakeholders from governments, civil society, academia and the private sector where intense discussions and peer learning and exchange take place to discuss how to accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe region.
The fourth session of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) region took place on 19 March 2020. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held as a virtual meeting without physical presence of participants. EUD, in collaboration with the European Disability Forum and the Swiss Federation of the Deaf actively participated in the Forum and ensured the Report reflects the perspectives of persons with disabilities, including the deaf Europeans.
As a result, the UNECE Report of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development highlights that while accelerating actions and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe region, the democratic participation and active inclusion of all, especially of discriminated and marginalized groups, and fully accessible processes (e.g. in national sign languages and in other accessible formats) are essential. This is one of the first times when accessibility in national sign languages and other accessible formats is mentioned as an essential element of democratic participation and active inclusion of all while delivering the SDGs.
Also, the RFSD Report highlights that “the ongoing pandemic is exposing existing weaknesses in infrastructure as well as in the health and care systems, and the failure to reach certain marginalized groups such as older people living alone or people with disabilities.”
The Report of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE region will provide regional input to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) which will take place in July this year.
The full report is available here: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/sustainable-development/RFSD_2020/Report_virtual_RFSD_2020.pdf