The Global Compact on Inclusive & Accessible Cities

We the Signatories of this Global Compact reaffirm our determination to build cities for all and agree to actively promote and progressively realize the Universal Inclusion and Accessibility of all persons in cities and human settlements; particularly older persons and all persons with disabilities-including persons with psychosocial, intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Acknowledging the principles in the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, which recognize the inherent dignity, individual autonomy, worth and equal and inalienable rights of all persons, as well as the political commitments to accessibility and universal design enshrined in Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.

Highlighting the historic and global consensus on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons in cities, which emerged out of the Habitat III process and recognizes cities, and their surroundings, as areas in which the Rights of all persons are guaranteed and can be exercised.

Considering that 1 billion persons, 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability and that by 2050, over 20% of the world´s population will be 60 or older. Further highlighting that more than half of all persons with disabilities and persons 60 or older now live in cities and towns and this number is estimated to double representing over 2 billion persons by 2050.

Acknowledging that disability is a part of diversity and humanity, and that disability is the result of functional impairments and their interactions with barriers in the built, digital and social environment; barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis with others.

Taking into account that 80% of persons with disabilities live in poverty facing considerable discrimination, disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty. Further, highlighting the Targets within Sustainable Development Goal 1 to End Poverty in all its Forms Everywhere and Sustainable Development Goal 10 to Reduce Inequality Within and Among Countries.

Recognizing that accessibility is a core principle of the New Urban Agenda and the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a right and precondition to the realization of all other rights and the international research which demonstrates the fact that it is reasonable to meet accessibility requirements at 1% of the total cost, and that retrofitting for accessibility is more expensive – by up to 20% of the original cost – than integrating accessibility and universal design principles into new buildings.

Acknowledging the specific mentions to Accessibility within the targets and indicators of Sustainable Development Goal 11, to Make Cities and Human Settlements Inclusive, Safe, Resilient and Sustainable.

Recognizing that limited or non-existent conditions of accessibility to the built environment, information and communication, digital technologies, education, employment and basic health and rehabilitation services can negatively impact and discriminate all persons in society. Further highlighting the focus on access and inclusion within Sustainable Development Goal 3 Good Health and Well Being, Goal 4 Quality Education, Goal 5 Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls, Goal 8 Promote Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Growth, Employment and Decent Work for; Goal 9 Build Resilient Infrastructure, Promote Sustainable Industrialization and Foster Innovation; Goal 10 and Goal 11.

Acknowledging the lack of access to early-warning systems, transportation, barrier-free housing, and public buildings and spaces- place persons with disabilities and older persons at high risk in natural disasters and conflicts situations and keeping in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, Sustainable Development Goal 9 build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, Goal 11 and Goal 13 to Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impact.

We, the Signatories commit to following Principles:

01 Non-Discrimination

  • Give particular attention to Leave No One Behind and actively address and condemn all forms of discrimination and barriers faced by persons in vulnerable situations, particularly persons with disabilities and older persons, by progressively implementing principles of Accessibility, Universal Design and the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities initiative transversally through all urban development strategies.
  • Ensure and actively promote equitable and affordable access to sustainable basic physical, social, and digital infrastructure that is responsive to all persons Right to Accessibility, without discrimination of any kind, including: serviced land, housing, modern and renewable energy, safe drinking water and sanitation, nutritious and adequate food, sustainable and safe mobility, healthcare and family planning, education, disaster risk reduction strategies, culture, justice and information and communication systems.
  • Address the severe social, economic and civic disparities faced by children and youth with disabilities by removing barriers to and guaranteeing mainstream accessibility requirements in cities that would allow them safe access to education and public spaces, and to enjoy their Right to Play.
  • Enable and promote the equal participation of all women particularly women with disabilities, older women, and pregnant women, whom encounter severe disadvantages because of the few or non-existent conditions of physical accessibility, accessibility to information and communication, and limited access to education and basic health and rehabilitation services.

02 Accessibility

  • Enable all persons to live independently and Actively Promote appropriate measures in cities and human settlements that facilitate access, elimination of barriers and full participation of persons with disabilities and older persons, on an equal basis with others, to all aspects of the physical and digital environment in cities-which includes the design, development and implementation of accessibility and universal design at an early stage so systems and infrastructure become accessible at minimum costs.
  • Actively Promote the provision and use of inclusive services, accessible digital platforms and tools, as well as live assistance and intermediaries- including physical and virtual guides, readers, audio and in easy ready formats, signage in Braille, captioners, and professional sign language interpreters- to facilitate accessibility to facilities, events and digital services available to the public- as well as improve participatory and inclusive urban and territorial planning and design, land administration and management.

03 Participation

  • Promote the full and effective participation of all persons, particularly persons with disabilities and older persons, in cities and urban planning strategies that engage stakeholders at all stages of development including local authorities, community members, planners and developers; and to the elimination of institutional, legal, physical, and digital barriers.
  • Promote mainstreaming of disability, accessibility and universal design transversally throughout urban planning strategies, implementation processes and programs; which includes the direct engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • Ensure equity, reasonable accommodation, and livelihood opportunities in cities and human settlements through education and inclusive hiring practices, as well as to legal, decent and gainful employment; by developing participatory programs that guarantee access to services in independent living, assistive devices, affordable and safe transportation and transformative mobility through technology.

04 Inclusive Urban Policies and Programs

  • Actively and progressively Promote, Adopt and Comply with international, regional and national accessibility regulations and legal requirements- including the International Organization on Standardization’s 71:2014 Guide on Accessibility , Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, the ETSI EN 301549, and Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act – through strengthening of strong inclusive management frameworks and accountable institutions in urban governance, focused on community based planning and participatory approaches in program design and deployment in coordination with civil society that includes organizations of persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • Develop, Deploy and Monitor initiatives towards the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services, both physical and digital, open or provided to the public through inclusive urban laboratories and networks; incorporating principles in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the WHO’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities framework.
  • Implement international, regional and national policies on Universal Design and Accessibility through programs in disaster risk reduction, information and communications technology, citizen-centric digital governance tools, sustainable and safe transport infrastructure.

05 Capacity Building

  • Promote, Develop and Deploy capacity development initiatives that empower, recognize, respect and strengthen skills and abilities of all persons and civil society organizations-without discrimination of any kind- particularly of organizations of persons with disabilities and older persons, in shaping inclusive governance processes, engaging in dialogue, and actively promoting equity and protecting human rights in urban and territorial development decision-making.
  • Actively support science and research programs that advance accessible technological and digital innovation for participatory and sustainable urban development, as well as accessible mechanisms for sharing and exchanging information, knowledge and expertise, and capacity development for equitable civic participation and research.
  • Support initiatives towards strengthening accessible physical and digital interfaces among all relevant stakeholders, offering opportunities for inclusive dialogue, including through age, gender and disability responsive approaches, and with particular attention to the potential contributions from persons with disabilities and older persons, without discrimination of any kind.

06 Data for Development

  • Actively support the role and enhanced capacity of national, subnational, and local governments and relevant stakeholders, in developing, generating and disseminating reliable and timely disaggregated data by sex, age, disability, income, migration status, geographic location, and other characteristics relevant in national context through basic land inventory information, valuation and risk maps, and the Washington Group Short Set of Questions; to systemically understand and address barriers to inclusion and accessibility in cities faced by all persons, particularly persons with disabilities and older persons.
  • Promote evidence-based inclusive governance, building on a shared knowledge base and best practices on Universal Accessibility, Age Friendly Cities, and Inclusion using both globally comparable as well as locally generated and disaggregated data, including through censuses, household surveys, population registers, accessibility mapping, community-based monitoring processes and other relevant sources.

We the signatories of the Global Compact on Inclusive and Accessible Cities, commit ourselves to reporting, on a regular basis, about steps taken and progress made in making cities and human settlements more inclusive and accessible for all people. We will do so by using existing accountability and reporting mechanisms such as foreseen in Article 34 of the UN CRPD as well as through the High-Level Political Forum as the follow-up mechanism to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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