THE BLOG

Can You Be Half-Included?

17/06/2014 10:48 BST | Updated 16/08/2014 10:59 BST

Last week the officially titled United Nations General Assembly's Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (more easily known as the OWG) met to discuss and release the Zero draft of their proposed Goals and Targets for the international development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015.

There's been a lot of good quality analysis done on the broader strengths and weaknesses of the proposed list - not least by Beyond 2015, the international campaign focused on the framework - feeding into the OWG's next meeting going on this week. They include the welcome inclusion of goal on inequality and the rights focus that clearly underpins the list and a strong mention of Universal Health Coverage. There are also more challenging views on the way climate change is targeted and the lack of clarity on universality as a core principle, for example.

I also have mixed feelings about the way in which people with disabilities are represented in the framework. On the positive side, there are four clear areas which expressly show a commitment to greater inclusion this time round - employment (mentioned twice), education, social and economic inclusion and the accessibility of cities. This progress is excellent and we should do all we can to ensure those gains are not lost in the subsequent discussions and editing processes which will inevitably lead to a shorter final outcome. It's particularly brilliant to see a focus on employment and vocational training in addition to the "usual suspects" of including kids with disabilities in education. Employment and economic inclusion are about recognising people with disabilities' wish and ability to contribute, reducing their current enforced dependence and leading to such a huge current waste of human potential. Those would be huge steps forwards.

There are also numerous references to "a focus on the particularly marginalised or vulnerable", which is good, but vague - and opens up the potential discussion around who is or isn't. When it isn't explicit, the evidence clearly shows that people with disabilities miss out. So while I completely understand the concern around constant lists of everything and everyone, there is yet another piece of exclusory evidence in the document itself - in target 17.36 which lays out the need for far better data, disaggregated by relevant (and marginalised) groups and lists pretty much every potential exclusory factor. The list goes by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity and rural/urban location. Notice anything missing? Ah, just the 1 billion people with disabilities, then.

The evidence is clear. Without specific methods of ensuring and monitoring inclusion, people with disabilities will miss out. Even catch-all terms such as "vulnerable or marginalised" (with all the potential stigmatising effects those terms can have) are not enough.

Currently, the Open Working Group zero draft is in effect recommending people with disabilities continue to be disproportionately excluded from health, food security, water and sanitation, energy, human habitations except cities, measures to reduce violence and even the monitoring framework which could tell us to what extent they are being excluded - so that adaptive measures can then be taken.

A framework based on these targets will not deliver what the world wants to see, which is a framework which leaves no-one behind. No-one.