Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and an honour to be with you this evening for the pre-launch of an important new report, ‘The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework’.
With our mission to connect all the world’s people, the ITU is firmly committed to promoting the empowerment of persons with disabilities through the use of ICTs, and also to enable the full participation of persons with disabilities in the activities of the Union.
This commitment was reinforced by our membership both at the ITU’s 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference and again at the end of last year at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, WCIT-12, which updated the International Telecommunication Regulations, the ITRs, with new accessibility provisions.
This is of the utmost importance, because there are now more than a billion people living with some form of disability – and 80% of them live in developing countries.
Disability is both a cause of and a consequence of poverty: poor people are more likely to become disabled; and people with disabilities are among the poorest and most vulnerable groups of the global population.
Regrettably, disability was not included in the Millennium Development Goals, or in their operationalizing targets and indicators.
As a result, disability has largely been invisible in their implementation, and is rarely included in national policies or programmes, or in monitoring and evaluation efforts related to the MDGs.
This has perpetuated a situation in which environmental barriers are still preventing persons with disabilities from accessing, participating and being fully-included in social, economic and political activities.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008, constitutes a commitment of the international community to the inclusion of the disability perspective and persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.
Furthermore, the UN General Assembly has undertaken to address this issue, and, during its sixty-eighth session, will be discussing the inclusion and integration of the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities in post-2015 development efforts.
A number of organizations, represented here this evening, including my organization, ITU, have come together to contribute to efforts leading to the formulation of a post-2015 development agenda.
Our multi-stakeholder partnership adopted a participatory approach and carried out a global consultation to collect over 150 expert inputs from 55 countries across the world.
Together, we have jointly produced this new report which seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the extent to which ICTs enable and accelerate the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The report highlights that when ICTs are available, affordable and accessible, they significantly improve access to all aspects of society and development.
The report also lists challenges that are still to be addressed while outlining concrete actions to be undertaken by each group of stakeholders and relevant indicators to monitor progress towards the achievement of a disability-inclusive development agenda.
Our vision is of inclusive development and a society in which persons with disabilities, as both agents and beneficiaries of development efforts, can maximize the use of ICTs to fully access healthcare services, benefit at all educational levels, be competitive in the labour market, participate in public life and live independently.
Let me invite you to maximize your use of the evidence in this report and I look forward to working together towards the achievement of this vision.