Global goals are agreed — we must now ensure these promises translate into action

28 September 2015

Nick Corbyby Nick Corby

I've just got back from New York where I represented Leonard Cheshire Disability at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit, where world leaders formally adopted a new global development agenda.

This new agenda — officially the sustainable development goals, but also called the global goals — presents an ambitious and compelling vision for the world 15 years from now.

Genuine excitement

At the summit I was struck by the breadth and depth of genuine excitement this new agenda has elicited across the international development community. The summit was a celebration of the colossal effort it took to secure global consensus on this agenda and a celebration of what is a clear commitment to transform the world for the better.

For disability and development there is a lot to celebrate. Persons with disabilities are now included in the global development agenda like never before. Country governments are now acknowledging the needs of persons with disabilities, multilateral organisations and donors are focusing more on disability, and large international charities appear to be considering global campaigns supporting persons with disabilities.

These green shoots suggest that disability is on the verge of getting the focus it needs and which until now has been missing.

We need more than words and promises

As is often the case though, these are just words and promises. We now need to muster sufficient resources to ensure this promise translates into action and palpable change for persons with disabilities.

Amina Mohammed is the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. She spoke at the summit of now rejecting business as usual. The need to do things differently if the sustainable development goals are to be achieved was a message I heard repeated many times during the summit.

That message is particularly relevant to persons with disabilities. We need to change the way we monitor progress. We need to ensure that governments don’t overlook disability for other issues. And we need to ensure that these lofty promises turn into specific commitments.

Next step: commit resources

As a first step, we are asking the UK government to convene a donor coordination meeting on disability and development that gives governments, foundations, multilateral organisations and civil society the opportunity to commit resources to persons with disabilities.

There is much that remains to be done to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, but the sustainable development summit was a welcome reminder of just how far we have already travelled.

Nick Corby is head of influencing, impact and learning in Leonard Cheshire Disability's international team.

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