Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement delivered at the Evaluation of Disabilities-Inclusive Development at UNDP

Jan 31, 2017

Excellency Ambassador Petersen, President of the Executive Board
Distinguished Executive Board Members,
UNDP and UN Colleagues,

I am pleased to present the Management Response to the evaluation of the role of UNDP in supporting disability-inclusive development over the last 10 years, from 2006 – 2016.

On behalf of UNDP’s senior management, I would like to thank the Independent Evaluation Office, Director Naidoo and the task manager for a detailed review of our work in promoting more inclusive growth and development throughout our portfolio of programmes and projects.

The decade started with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, one of the most rapidly ratified human rights instruments, which has 172 Parties to it to date. Since the adoption of the Convention, UNDP has played its part in helping to support its implementation through policy, institutional capacity support, financing tools and partnerships in over 98 countries and hundreds of project interventions.

We distinguish our targeted and mainstreaming efforts in our programmes and projects in supporting equal opportunities, inclusive governance and societies. UNDP has made targeted efforts in 29 countries in which work has focused directly on improving the condition of persons with disabilities across the three thematic areas of our Strategic Plan. An example of this is the support to the Convention cycle in Albania spanning the ratification process, helping the Government to develop its social inclusion strategy and revise its social protection policies, improve data collection and draft new legislation in compliance with the Convention.

UNDP has mainstreamed support to persons with disabilities in 70 countries assisting governments to include persons with disabilities within wider development initiatives targeting sectors, regions or issues, in particular access to services –as in Belarus.

In Rwanda, UNDP supported the Union for the Deaf People, to increase Deaf youth participation in the promotion of the rights of People with Disabilities by increasing awareness, and advocating towards leaders and duty bearers towards improving access of people living with disabilities to gender-responsive health information and services.

In Zambia, UNDP supported CSOs representing persons with disabilities to participate in strategic planning, joint monitoring and evaluation of HIV response. As a result, persons with disabilities have been included in the Zambian definition of key populations in the revised HIV strategic framework.

In Bangladesh, UNDP is providing technical assistance to the National Human Rights Commission in monitoring implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and supporting the Government in developing an inclusive National Social Security Strategy.

In Egypt, UNDP has implemented a project aiming at creating employment and internship opportunities for 600 young disabled people in partnership with ILO. UNDP is also developing ICT solutions to facilitate access to vocational training and educational resources for youth and children living with disabilities.

In Lebanon, the Lebanese Elections Assistance Project is providing technical support to facilitate the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections in consultation with the major local Union of the people with disabilities.

One final example comes from Azerbaijan where UNDP provides support to mine victims by integrating survivors and disabled women into economic activities. UNDP has also provided support to their children’s education, preventing school drop-out that may lead to further exclusion.

UNDP has issued specific corporate Guidance to our country offices on how to apply the Convention in programmes and projects. Other corporate efforts to support disability-inclusive development include our  Social and Environmental Standards as of 2015, which aim to help the organization to avoid or mitigate unintended negative consequences of programming, including promoting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in our development efforts.

Furthermore, UNDP has issued a Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy and taken other steps to improve our capacity to adequately attract, support and retain staff with disabilities at UNDP, including the development of an online course “Persons with Disability, Ability, Capability and Employability”. The course provides insights on various issues related to integrating and working with people with disabilities, including issues of reasonable accommodation and universal design.

We will also be imminently launching a new talent acquisition programme for young leaders with disabilities jointly with the UN Volunteer Programme, and have already signed agreements with specialized higher education institutions to allow for internships in my office of hearing impaired professionals. The UN Volunteers was in 2015 coordinating assignments for 188 online volunteers living with disabilities (47% women and 82% from developing countries).   

UNDP management welcomes the evaluation’s findings and conclusions, which recognize that:
UNDP is well-positioned to play a prominent role in advancing the Convention at global and country levels;

  • Some of our programming has been instrumental, and in certain cases a major force, in helping to develop and strengthen disability law and policy frameworks;
  • UNDP has effectively supported disability work where there has been clear national ownership and leadership in advancing the Convention;
  • Evidence shows that the United Nations Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which UNDP serves as the Technical Secretariat, has been a viable and innovative instrument to promote multi-sector interventions and has achieved more outcome-level objectives than anticipated;
  • Lastly, we welcome that UNDP’s support and national efforts to achieve the SDGs provides an important opportunity to help strengthen the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Noting that the SDGs contain multiple targets that specify people with disabilities and are indeed mainstreamed throughout the Agenda.

Let me now turn to the specific recommendations of the report:

Response to recommendations 1-3

UNDP finds the recommendations useful and agrees specifically that greater prominence and attention to the rights of persons with disabilities is required, to situate the organization, as the evaluation pointed out, as a leading provider of disability inclusive development expertise.

Contingent on the inclusion of disabilities as part of UNDP’s Strategic Plan we will ensure that disability-specific targets and indicators are considered in the Integrated Results and Resources Framework.

UNDP will review and integrate disability inclusion into our support to the implementation of Goal 16 of the SDGs.

UNDP also commits to revising and reissuing our Guidance to country offices on how to apply the Convention in programming in light of the SDGs.

Response to recommendations 4-6

UNDP welcomes the finding that our role as host of the Technical Secretariat has added value to UN system efforts to support implementation of the Convention. We will continue to facilitate discussions on scaling up on funding to this mechanism.

UNDP welcomes the recommendation to strengthen UNDAFs to address implementation of the Convention consistent with the SDGs. UNDAFs are nationally owned programmes based on national priorities, resource-dependent and formulation is part of a multi-agency consultation process. Therefore, UNDP is not alone in this effort and remains committed to collective action.

Furthermore, UNDP commits to revising existing guidance and templates for programme design and monitoring to ensure that the UNDP Civic Engagement Strategy will involve consultations, including with the UNDP Civil Society Advisory Committee, which currently includes a member of a Disabled Persons Organization. It is worth noting that the Committee member serve in their individual capacity, not as an organizational representative however.

Response to recommendation 7-12

UNDP welcomes the recommendations related to specific areas of programming which are in line with the overarching approach of “Leaving no one behind” as we seek to eradicate poverty and amplify our efforts to significantly reduce inequalities and exclusion. This includes efforts to identify opportunities to strengthen disability inclusion across our corporate standards and tools and better capture progress in the Results Oriented Annual Reporting.

UNDP will also develop additional guidance and tools to mainstream disabilities including amending and integrating disability and vulnerability considerations in crisis preparedness and response support, Post-Disaster Needs Assessments and recovery plans following disasters, taking into account the specific rights and needs of persons with disabilities.

UNDP will continue to advocate for all societal groups to have access to institutions and political processes and develop further tools and guidance on mainstreaming disability access in electoral assistance.

Response to recommendation 13-16

UNDP agrees with many recommendations related to our Internal Culture and Procedures and has already taken significant steps to improve UNDP’s capacity to adequately attract, support and retain staff with disabilities in UNDP.

UNDP will survey country offices to acquire a comprehensive overview of issues related to inclusion of persons with disabilities in UNDP subject to confidentiality obligations.  UNDP will look into the establishment of a fund for reasonable accommodation and furthermore will issue specific guidance on this issue for all country offices.

We further commit to updating and rolling out a new version of both the UNDP Diversity and Inclusiveness Strategy and the online learning course on disability in UNDP.

Other important steps include a ‘disability audit’ of key human resource functions, policies and tools to foster employment and retention of persons with disabilities in UNDP. As mentioned in my introduction, bringing young leaders with disabilities and finalizing arrangements with the UN Volunteer programme as a mechanism to further engage and employ persons with disabilities are underway.

Let me conclude by acknowledging again the value of this evaluation, and the dialogue with our partners.  While the evidence points at UNDP taking the issue seriously and working – in spite of constraints – to become a more welcoming organization, we can and will do more.

Thank you and I would be happy to respond to any questions you might have.

UNDP Around the world