As part of International Day of Disabled People 2023, we are joining with friends and partners across the globe in focusing on the theme of 'United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by disabled people'.

Every year on 3 December, the world is invited to observe International Day of Disabled People - a day to promote wider understanding of issues around access and inclusion and mobilise support for the rights and independence of disabled people across the globe.

Disabled people are the largest minority group in the world today. Over 15% of the global population is disabled - that is over 1.2 billion people, or 1,200,000,000. That is enough to fill Wembley Stadium over 13,000 times!

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a range of goals introduced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015. The objective of these goals was, that by 2030, they would be reached, with the theme of “leaving no person behind.” They focus on the '5 P's': people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. 

Find out more about the full list of the United Nations SDGs.

Much of these areas affect disabled people specifically. There are several barriers that can impact disabled people’s levels of poverty, their political participation, their access to education and employment, as well as their feelings of safety in our changing world. According to a 2018 report on the 2030 agenda, not only is the SDG agenda linked to the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (CRPD) through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but 11 indicators refer to disabled people across the topic areas.

In addition, all goals and indicators can be applied to disabled people, through the universality of 'leaving no person behind'. Therefore, it is incredibly important that disabled people are kept in mind throughout the remaining years of the 2030 Agenda.

Disability is included in the following goals:

  • Goal 4 – Guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for disabled people
  • Goal 8 – Promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowing disabled people to fully access the job market
  • Goal 10 – Emphasising the social, economic and political inclusion of disabled people 
  • Goal 11 – Creating accessible cities and water resources, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible and green spaces
  • Goal 17 – Underlining the importance of data collection and monitoring of the SDGs, emphasis on disability disaggregated data

As of 2023, we are halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda. However, it has been found that for the majority of goals, we are nowhere near the expected timeline to reach the suggested targets, and in some cases have even reversed.

This has not been helped with the unexpected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which for many groups – but particularly disabled people – has exacerbated barriers to financial, environmental and health security.

One factor that has been highlighted for improvement has been the collection of data regarding disabled people within these goals. As disability is defined as ‘cross-cutting,’ meaning it can affect people regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race or any other societal group they belong to, it is important to collect as much data regarding it as possible to understand if things are improving as we head closer towards the 2030 deadline. As it stands, there is a lack of data on disabled people’s experiences within these goals specifically.

In addition, there is a lack of mandatory review for countries; while there are Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), due to their nature, countries such as the United Kingdom have indicated that they will not be conducting one.

The International Disability Alliance has compiled examples of countries who have completed VNRs, such as Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. This allows you to see some of the work done for disabled people under the 2030 Agenda.

You can also follow organisations such as the European Disability Forum, who work with the UN Convention to harmonise SDGs with a focus on disabled people, and have also taken part in some of the annual forums organised to discuss these issues and how to reach the targets set.

Since our inception in 2009, CAFE has been committed to using the unique power of sport as a catalyst for wider societal change. We recognise that sport, and in particular football, can bridge the divide and unite people from all parts of the world. Our vision is a world where disabled people are a key part of the global sporting landscape, as fans, employees, volunteers and leaders, so that everyone has equal opportunities to contribute in an accessible, inclusive and welcoming environment.

There is still much work to be done, but the sports industry has taken many great strides towards improving accessibility and recognising the power and value of embracing inclusion.

We wish all of our friends, partners and stakeholders, and disabled people across the world, a very happy International Day of Disabled People 2023!


Published 2/12/2023