DPO Participation in SDG Implementation & Reporting

Risna Utami, Penny Innes, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Dianasign language interpreter
Risna Utami, Penny Innes, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Diana Samarasan, Mika Kontiainen, Med Ssengooba on panel with sign language interpreter

The following is a summary of a side event during the 10th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (June 13, 2017) which discussed the participation of disabled persons’ organizations in the implementation and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was co-sponsored by the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN, the Permanent Mission of Australia to the UN, and the International Disability Alliance. The following is a summary of the event.


  • The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities (Canada)
  • Ms. Penny Innes, Head of Disability Inclusion Team, Department for International Development (UK)
  • Mr. Mika Kontiainen, Director Disability, Development Policy Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia)
  • Mr. Med Ssengooba, Program Officer for Africa, Disability Rights Fund (DRF)
  • Ms. Risnawati Utami, Chair, OHANA Indonesia
  • Ms. Orsolya Bartha, Senior Adviser, International Disability Alliance (IDA)
  • Ms. Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) and Disability Rights Fund (DRF)

Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director of the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF), introduced speakers to address how donor agencies and the disability community are using the new global development framework to increase inclusion of persons with disabilities in development.

Diana Samarasan described the DRF and DRAF, “Since 2008, we have given out more than $20 million to 300 different Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) across 34 countries in the developing world to do advocacy, using the CRPD. As of last year, our funding includes a focus on participation of the disability community in SDG implementation at national and sub-national levels. By end of year, 83 (of 98) total annual grants linked to the SDGs with 19 DPOs doing direct advocacy to governments or civil society actors to include persons with disabilities in SDG processes, and 64 doing work towards achievement of SDG Goals 4 on education; 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions; 1 on poverty and 10 on inequalities; and 5 on gender equality.”

During the session, both the UK and Australian governments announced their continued partnerships with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund.

Mika Kontiainen, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia), said that the Australian government values partnerships with the the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) to support Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) – many of which are too small for the Australian government to reach. He stated, “Australia, which has partnered with the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund since 2009, has renewed their partnership with DRAF to provide funding until 2020 to support the excellent work they are doing with DPOs to implement the CRPD and the SDGs.”

Penny Innes, UK Department for International Development (DFID), similarly underlined the efficacy of their ongoing collaboration with DRF: “We have seen legislative changes and CRPD ratification and disabled persons’ organizations being involved in the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD. It does lead to change. It’s working at grassroots levels with very small disabled persons’ organizations and giving them a boost and helping them to raise the needs of persons with disabilities and press governments to do more.”

The speakers emphasized the importance of engaging disabled persons’ organizations because, as Penny Innes said, “they are the ones that know the reality of living with a disability and the needs and how best they can be met.” They also emphasized the importance of disaggregated data – and specifically, the Washington Group on Disability short set of questions – to make sure that persons with disabilities are not left behind. The UK Government has proposed the introduction of an OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) policy marker to flag aid flows that support the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the aid financing system. (Update: On June 21, OECD-DAC adopted the UK’s proposal for a new disability marker and will take forward the proposal to all DAC members.)

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities (Canada), spoke about the instrumental role that disabled peoples’ organizations played in shaping the CRPD and the key role that disabled peoples’ organizations continue to play in informing the development of national accessibility legislation in Canada. Minister Qualtrough highlighted Canada’s recent international assistance review, which sought feedback from a broad range of stakeholders in order to re-shape Canada’s international assistance and inform Canada’s approach to supporting the 2030 Agenda internationally. Disabled peoples’ organizations provided a number of concrete insights into how Canada can better support the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canada’s international assistance programming. She said, “The SDGs – grounded in the fundamental principle to leave no one behind – provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to work collectively towards the achievement of 17 goals that have the ability to advance equality for all.”

Mika Kontiainen said, “Australia’s Aid program recognizes the need to include persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of aid projects. In other words, we are very serious about the principle of Nothing About Us Without Us.” Part of how they operationalize this is by requiring all Australian aid investment program managers who support programs of more than AUD $3 million to report annually on the degree to which that investment is inclusive of persons with disabilities. Australia is also co-chairing the GLAD (Global Action on Disability) Network with IDA, bringing together key stakeholders, including DRF/DRAF, to enhance the inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development and humanitarian action.

Medi Ssengooba, DRF/DRAF Program Officer for Africa, provided information on how DRF/DRAF support to national DPOs in Uganda led to participation by persons with disabilities in Ugandan reporting at the High Level Political Forum on the SDGs in July 2016 and in subsequent follow-up at national level. The Ugandan national DPO umbrella, NUDIPU, now sits on the government planning committee addressing SDG implementation and is part of discussions with government agencies, including the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, about how to ensure greater inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

Risnawati Utami, founder and director of DRF/DRAF-supported DPO, OHANA, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has been leading work in the disability community to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in both CRPD and SDG implementation in Indonesia. Risna said, “Most importantly, persons with disabilities and their representative organizations have now become subjects in the development processes. Before we were just objects and beneficiaries, but not actors. Now, we can engage the government and even the UN system. This is a huge change, thanks to DRF.”

Orsolya Bartha of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), summed up by speaking about IDA’s work with the UN and the High-level Political Forum, which is the UN central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. “With the SDGs,” she said, “we are opening doors for persons with disabilities to have a discussion, a dialogue, an opportunity to engage with governments in a different platform and in a new set up in the development dialogue.” IDA’s advocacy at the global level ensures that persons with disabilities are at the decision-making table.