Designing buildings for inclusion and dignity

UNDP and Public Defender advocate for an accessible environment for people with disabilities

Posted April 16, 2021

Photo: Nino Zedginidze/UNDP

Recognizing the challenges faced by people with disabilities in Georgia, UNDP and the Public Defender’s Office (PDO) are collaborating to promote an inclusive environment for all citizens — without exception. This includes assisting in the implementation of the National Accessibility Standards (adopted in December 2020), which make infrastructure in Georgia fully accessible to people with disabilities.

In March and April, UNDP and PDO organized a series of 12 training sessions for over 300 representatives from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and from local municipalities responsible for overseeing building design and construction.

PDO staff and professional architects delivered training that covered key topics related to accessibility, such as human rights principles in architecture and technical standards of inclusive design and construction.

“Georgia has come a long way in enacting the principles enshrined in the UN Convention on disability,” said UNDP Acting Head Anna Chernyshova. “Our support aims to ensure that equality and inclusiveness are protected everywhere, in the streets and public areas, at workplaces and homes.”      

“Introducing the National Accessibility Standards is a step forward in protecting the rights of people with disabilities,” said Deputy Public Defender Ekaterine Skhiladze. “The next step is to ensure that this progressive regulation is effectively implemented and contributes to building an inclusive environment in Georgia.”

People with disabilities remain an excluded and marginalized group in Georgian society, even though the country made a strong legal commitment to protecting their rights when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2014 and passed the national Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2020.

As documented in UNDP research, large majorities of Georgians agree that in areas as diverse as education, employment and decision-making, persons with physical disabilities can perform equally to persons without disabilities (the acceptance rate drops dramatically for persons with mental or intellectual disabilities). This research also shows that Georgians expect the government to increase support for persons with disabilities; 85 percent of respondents described the creation of inclusive infrastructure as an urgent need.

UNDP has been helping to protect disability rights in Georgia for more than a decade, working in partnership with the Government, other UN agencies and national and international actors. Current support comes from a USD 2 million joint programme to improve social protection for persons with disabilities. Six UN agencies are implementing the programme with resources provided through the United Nation’s Fund for Sustainable Development Goals.

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