With 1 in 6 of us around the world experiencing significant disability, global efforts to transform our world must leave no one behind.

In 2015, the United Nations adopted Agenda 2030: the UN agreement that contains the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

193 governments have committed to achieving the SDGs by 2030.

In 2024, we are now beyond the halfway point to reaching the goals and far from achieving them.

The UN Secretary-General said that progress on 50 percent of the goals is weak and insufficient and we have stalled or gone into reverse on more than 30 percent of the goals.

What are the SDGs?

There are 17 SDGs that touch upon every context of life. The goals are integrated – they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. View a list of all the goals.

The goals have 169 targets identified to realise them. Of these, five of the goals identify people with disabilities as key agents. These are:

Quality Education

Guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for people with disabilities.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowing people with disabilities to fully access the job market.

Reduced Inequalities

Emphasising the social, economic and political inclusion of people with disabilities.

Sustainable cities and communities

Creating accessible cities and water resources, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible and green public spaces.

Partnerships for the goals

Underlining the importance of data collection and monitoring of the SGDs, emphasis on disability disaggregated data.

The International Disability Alliance, along with the International Disability and Development Consortium and other allies across the disability rights movement, successfully advocated for a total of 11 references to people with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda. This is significant progress from the complete absence of people with disabilities in the Millennium Development Goals, which ran from 2000 to 2015.

While the SDGs include people with disabilities, this does not fully extend into the monitoring of target outcomes. Only seven out of 169 targets specifically address disability inclusion and only 10 of their 231 indicators explicitly require disability data disaggregation (reference).

'It is time for global and country level policy commitments to catch up. At a global level monitoring of the SDGs must include greater involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities, and this should be matched with investment for these groups, to ensure capacity building programmes around the SDGs can scale up. Without this, the disability community and underrepresented groups will continue to struggle to take part in national SDG plans.'

Ulrika Modéer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP (June 2023) 

Further reading