Mainstreaming barrier-free principles in Ukraine in response to new challenges

UNDP Ukraine representatives participated in the Meeting of the Council for a Barrier-Free Environment

February 15, 2023
Photo courtesy NGO Bezbariernist

Ukraine, 15 February 2023 – Chaired by Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal and with the participation of the First Lady Olena Zelenska, the meeting of the Council for a Barrier-Free Environment took place to review the progress achieved towards implementation of the National Strategy for a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine and its Action Plan in 2021 and 2022, and to identify top priorities for 2023 and 2024.

Olena Zelenska stressed that barrier-free principles should not be treated as a formality during the full-scale war and in the post-war setting. The accessibility of everything – buildings, education, work, information, and chances to live a full life – should be at the heart of all decisions and changes, with a human-centred approach as the bedrock.

“Projects initiated before the war became excruciatingly relevant. I believe we all experienced that. We felt the physical barriers of the war first. We all faced the urgency of evacuation and the need to get to the shelter quickly. Also, we all experienced a myriad of invisible barriers. These could be the lack of information, inability to work or study, or economic uncertainty. This makes barrier-free principles multifaced, like the barriers itself. And this is not a formality or a trend, or an add on. They are much more than a ramp into a building. They are about quality of life and even a matter of survival,” said Olena Zelenska 

Jaco Cilliers, Interim UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, emphasized that UNDP is working closely with all partners and stakeholders to embed the principles of equality, inclusiveness and accessibility into all emergency humanitarian responses and early recovery solutions.

“Now more than ever, we should review all our plans and actions through the lens of human rights values and barrier-free principles. The hardships and perils of war have an immense impact on the lives and wellbeing of all women and men, girls and boys in Ukraine, mercilessly affecting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged persons. During these times of unprecedented crisis we must uphold our commitment to building a more inclusive, accessible and barrier-free environment in Ukraine, making sure that no one is left behind,” he said.

The draft Action Plan for 2023-2024 comprises 472 measures covering the areas of social, educational, economic, digital, civil and physical inclusiveness. The Action Plan engages 20 of Ukraine’s ministries for its implementation.

Since 2021, UNDP Ukraine has been working closely with the Government of Ukraine to accelerate barrier-free principles in Ukraine. UNDP is providing broad support to implementation of the National Strategy on Building a Barrier-Free Environment in Ukraine and its Action Plan.

UNDP Ukraine is steadily supporting initiatives related to barrier-free literacy, digital accessibility, and barrier-free communication. With the beginning of the full-scale war, UNDP also launched initiatives to promote access to critical information and an inclusive humanitarian response. 

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, Communications Team Leader, UNDP in Ukraine, or +38 097 139 1475