Urbanization is occurring rapidly around the world, as 60 percent of the world’s population is estimated live in urban areas, according to the United Nations World Cities Report in 2016 (UN). Therefore, it is increasingly important that cities are inclusive of persons with disabilities, who make up an estimated 15 percent of the world’s population (Chan and Zoellick 2011). An inclusive city is an urban community with attitudes that value everyone. Inclusive cities consist of accessible infrastructure so that persons with disabilities can have full access to all the amenities and experiences of the cities that every other citizen does. It is so important that cities are inclusive because it is a fundamental human rights issue; persons with disabilities have the right to full and equal access and enjoyment.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, also known as UN-Habitat, is the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development. It is currently active in over 70 countries, with projects aimed at addressing issues related to housing problems and slum growth. The United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development happens every 20 years. Habitat III was the third, and it took place in Quito, Ecuador from October 17-20, 2016. The New Urban Agenda was the outcome document for the Habitat III, in which the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All states in part:
“We share a vision of cities for all, referring to the equal use and enjoyment of cities and human settlements, seeking to promote inclusivity and ensure that all inhabitants, of present and future generations, without discrimination of any kind, are able to inhabit and produce just, safe, healthy, accessible, affordable, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements to foster prosperity and quality of life for all” (Habitat III).
I believe that the Quito Declaration in the New Urban Agenda reflects the shift in the international community towards inclusion of persons with disabilities, and is a huge and important step towards inclusive sustainable development. With rapid urbanization occurring, it is essential to ensure that cities are not only sustainable in order to protect the environment, but also inclusive so that all inhabitant can enjoy equal access and opportunities. While there is still much work to be done before all cities are inclusive, I think the New Urban Agenda is huge step in the right direction.
Chan, D. M., & Zoellick, M. R. B. (2011). World Report on Disability (p. 24).
Habitat III. (2016). Retrieved from http://habitat3.org/
- (2016). World Cities Report 2016. Retrieved from http://wcr.unhabitat.org/