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Campaigners urge ECOWAS to champion disability rights to get SDGs back on track

July 2023

West African civil society organisations are calling on ECOWAS to commit to disability inclusion or risk de-railing the Global Goals.

This Sunday 9 July, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members are coming together for the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Guinea Bissau. Ahead of the meeting, a coalition of disability rights organisations has released a joint statement calling on member governments to commit to championing inclusion at the event and at the upcoming United Nations (UN) summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September.

The three civil society organisations are the West African Federation of Associations for the Advancement of Persons with Disabilities (FOAPH), Sightsavers and Light for the World. The SDGs are a set of 17 ambitious global goals, adopted by the UN and governments worldwide in 2015, which aim to combat poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. Recent UN reports show they are far behind target.

Saleck Ould Dah, Sightsavers’ Global Advocacy Officer for Francophone West Africa, has said, “As the world is coming to the halfway point of the 2030 deadline to achieve the SDGs, evidence shows that progress on them has derailed – they are completely off-track.

“The promise to leave no one behind – that included people with disabilities – is in peril. If the SDGs are to be delivered, now is the time to reflect on their implementation as well as the steps needed globally and nationally to achieve them.

“Our Equal World campaign is calling on ECOWAS to renew its commitments to greater inclusion of people with disabilities at the summit on the SDGs, and to serve as a champion for inclusion throughout the world in general and in West Africa in particular”.

At the midway point of the SDGs on 18-19th September, world leaders including ECOWAS Heads of State and Government will convene at the UN SDG Summit in New York to evaluate progress made on the SDGs and make commitments on transformative and accelerated actions they will take. The outcome of the summit will be a negotiated political declaration, which member states can contribute to.

Yatma Fall, President of FOAPH, said, “ECOWAS has been a global leader in commitments to inclusion. The Equal World campaign calls on them to continue to champion efforts to reach those who are being left furthest behind”.

“We also ask that they include people with disabilities in the processes leading up to the SDG Summit in September. It is only by having an equal say in the processes that affect our lives, that we can achieve a fair, inclusive, and equal world for all”.

The statement is part of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign. It is calling on world leaders to recognise that the promise to leave no one behind is in peril and to ensure that the political declaration, and all national commitments, made at the SDG Summit focus on reaching those who are being left furthest behind in global development.

The full joint statement from FOAPH, Sightsavers and Light for the World can be read here.

Find out more about the Equal World campaign and its petition calling on world leaders to leave no one behind.

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