My name is Sylvana Lakkis and I am the Vice Chair of Disabled People’s International and the Regional Chair of DPI Arab Region.

DPI, as many of you may know, is a historic organisation that was set up in the year 1981 which is also the International Year of Persons with Disabilities. DPI has ECOSOC Special Consultative Status with the UN since 1983. With it’s philosophy “Nothing About Us Without Us”, DPI has been the world's first successful cross-disability endeavour to convert the talk about full and equal participation of persons with disabilities into action. We have an outreach in more than 130 countries across seven regions – Africa, Arab, Asia-Pacific, CIS, Europe, Latin America and North America & Caribbean through our Member National Assemblies that are focused on capacity building and empowerment of people with disabilities in their respective countries with over half of them based in the developing world. Majority of our members are from countries of the Global South where 800 million of the one billion people with disabilities live.

I am also privileged to inform this august gathering that DPI recently concluded it’s 9th World Assembly in New Delhi, India in April earlier this year. With over 200 people with disabilities participating from nearly 70 countries, this was one of the most historic, path breaking World Assemblies in the history of DPI. I am also glad to inform you that Mr. Javed Abidi was elected as the Global Chair of DPI for a 2nd term. Unfortunately, he could not join us for the Conference this year but he has asked me to convey his warm regards to you all.

With the celebrations in place on the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD and the fact that this is the first Conference of States Parties to be held after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), we are already looking forward to a more comprehensive and substantive outcome at the end of this year’s Conference.

Given this year’s theme and sub-themes, if we talk about Disability Inclusive Development in context of the 2030 Agenda, it is important for us to understand a few points:

DPI members strongly feel that SDGs and the CRPD are not mutually exclusive of each other. Infact, they re-inforce each other in a way that it becomes imperative for us to make every effort to include CRPD as an integral part of the SDG related activities that are already under process at the grassroots or that are still in the planning stages.

Secondly, the knowledge gap between the people at the grassroots and policy makers and decision makers has to be bridged. It is the grassroot organisations that will be leading the advocacy campaigns within their countries for implementing disability inclusive development and a lack of knowledge and capacity will affect the implementation of the SDGs.

Thirdly, we all know that more than 1 billion people i.e. 15% of the world's population live with some form of disability or the other which is approx. 1 in 7 people in the world. 80% of this population i.e. 800 million people, live in the developing countries of the Global South comprising of 20% of the world’s poor. Therefore, there is an intrinsic link between Disability and Poverty. This makes it all the more important for people with disabilities from the Global South to have their voices heard at global disability platforms and we should ensure that they are not left out from the decision making structures if we are to achieve our goal of “leaving no one behind”.

However, all our efforts can go in vain if we don’t understand the importance of data as being crucial for effective monitoring and evaluation of disability inclusive development. And, that is precisely why DPI in it’s World Assembly outcome document – Delhi Declaration has called for a disability data revolution to be led by Governments, international agencies and DPOs by developing and promoting standardised tools and methodologies and capacity building of relevant actors which will catalyse not just disability based data disaggregation but also lead to reliability and comparability of the data so that we know the scale of the issue and are able to budget and plan programmes accordingly.

Further, to tie all this together, accessibility of Information and Communication Technology is extremely important in order for persons with disabilities to enjoy a barrier free and independent life. Technology is a common link between all sectors and we are hoping that from the discourse, arises the role of technology in facilitating the right to access for people with disabilities in all spheres.

Lastly, I would like to end by saying that DPI will continue it’s commitment towards a new global movement of persons with disabilities from the grassroots and to the true empowerment and capacity building of leaders who can genuinely represent the lived and unique experiences of the last person with disability in the remotest part of the world.

Thank you