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Global Disability Summit 2018 – London, UK

On 24 July 2018, the former UK Department for International Development (DFID), along with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the Government of Kenya, hosted the first Global Disability Summit in London. This was preceded by a Civil Society Forum on 23 July 2018.

The Global Disability Summit was co-hosted by the former UK Department for International Development (DFID), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and the Government of Kenya in July 2018. It was a game-changing event with far-reaching consequences. World leaders, government officials, civil society, the private sector, the donor community, and Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) came together to share experiences, ideas, and aspirations for development and humanitarian work more inclusive for people with disabilities. People with disabilities were at the center of the design and delivery of the Summit, reflecting the fundamental principle of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the disability rights movement: 'Nothing About Us, Without Us!' 

The co-hosts have continued to work together, in partnership with a range of sector representatives, to develop an approach to accountability for the commitments made in London and beyond.

The Summit itself had four main objectives:

  • Raise global attention and focus on a neglected area;

  • Bring in new voices and approaches to broaden engagement;

  • Mobilize new global and national commitments on disability; 

  • Showcase best practices and evidence from across the world.

When held up against these four objectives, GDS18 secured notable successes. GDS18 was attended by approximately 1200 delegates from 67 countries including a Head of State (Ecuador), over 40 government Ministers, and five heads of UN agencies. People with disabilities were at the center of planning and delivering the Summit, in line with the principle of 'Nothing About Us, Without Us!' The event brought together high-level decision-makers with existing champions of disability inclusion, emerging partners, and new donors. By the time of the Summit, over 300 organisations and governments had signed the Charter for Change, a framework for action on implementing the CRPD. Attendees also made close to 1000 specific commitments intended to strengthen disability-inclusive development, including many from agencies and governments comparatively new to disability inclusion.

Themes and priorities

In consultation with IDA, the UK Civil Society BOND Disability and Development Group, the IDDC, UN agencies, the World Bank, and other important stakeholders, the Government of the UK undertook a process of consultation on the Summit themes and priorities. Based on this consultation, the Summit was built around these four themes:

  • Tackling stigma and discrimination;

  • Inclusion in education;

  • Routes to economic empowerment;

  • Harnessing technology and innovation.

During the GDS18, 171 national governments, multilateral agencies, donors, foundations, private sector, and civil society organisations made a total of 968 individual commitments around the four central themes of the Summit, as listed above (ensuring dignity and respect for all, inclusive education, routes to economic empowerment, harnessing technology and innovation), as well as two cross-cutting themes (women and girls with disabilities, conflict and humanitarian contexts), and data disaggregation.