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Bridging the Gap analyses its contribution to disability-inclusive development

INVITATION - BtG capitalization conference

On June 8th and 9th 2021, The European project “Bridging the Gap II – Inclusive Policies and Services for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities” (BtG-II), organised an online technical workshop and a Policy Dialogue Conference – “Disability inclusion in development cooperation – The European way forward“ – to contribute to the current debate on disability-inclusive development by sharing experiences and expertise for inclusion in line with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Conference has been developed to strengthen the project development practitioner’s partners and stakeholders in defining a stronger and more effective approach to disability mainstreaming. The activity was structured in two online sessions, a Technical Workshop on Day 1 (8 June 2021, Day 1) and a Policy Dialogue Conference on Day 2 (9 June 2021, Day 2).


Over the past four years, BtG-II has been contributing to the mainstreaming of the disability component in international development cooperation. The project has been supporting the practical implementation of the human rights-based approach and the consideration of disability as a cross-cutting issue of utmost importance in all frameworks, policies, programmes, projects and initiatives of cooperation, instead of being a standing-alone pillar. This approach is key to ensure the full implementation of the CRPD and of the SDGs’ principle of “leaving no one behind”.


The experiences shared at the Conference showed the important role that BtG-II has played to reinforce the coordination, cooperation, and commitment for inclusion in its partners and stakeholders. The Conference contributed to strengthen the policy dialogue on disability-inclusive development cooperation based on good practices and lessons generated by BtG-II and its stakeholders.


On Day 1, BtG-II invited its partners to talk about how the project impacted the partnership’s approach to disability-inclusive development. The discussion has been enriched by external BtG-II’s stakeholders bringing in their experiences and practices.


Collaborations and strategic partnerships are decisive to promote disability-inclusive policies and practices and to infuse knowledge at all level. On this basis, Peggy Martinello, Head of Unit of Public Administration and Social Affairs at FIIAPP, recalled that the constructive cooperation at different policy-making levels, involving OPDs and CSOs, that BtG-II put in place is unconditionally the “way forward” to achieve results.


The three BtG-II partner Agencies (ADA, AECID, AICS) underlined how the project has driven and reinforced disability mainstreaming in their policies, strategies, programs, and projects, both at country office and headquarter level. At ADA, the Advisor for EU-funded projects, Georg Huber-Grabenwarter, mentioned some examples such as the integration of inclusive development principles in the project cycle management to ensure inclusive development adequately addressed in programmes and projects. Similarly, Miriam Ciscar Blat, Head of Sectoral Programmes at AECID, and Mina Lomuscio, Disability focal point at AICS, shared the important effect BtG-II had on reinforcing strategic collaboration, strengthening the knowledge on disability and enriching the entire programming process, exemplified, among other initiatives, by the Group of Friends impulse by BtG and Italy in Sudan and presented by Daniele Manieri – BtG-II’s Country Coordinator at AICS. Message reaffirmed also by NORAD, the Norwegian cooperation agency, whose very own Matias Egeland, invited to participate in the next Global Disability Summit 2022, precisely with a view to consolidate collaboration between cooperation actors.


BtG-II’s partners from the civil society, IDDC and EDF, represented respectively by Blandine Bouniol, Advocacy Director Humanity and Inclusion and Marion Steff, International Cooperation Manager, highlighted as well how collaboration supports relevant policy-making processes and disability mainstreaming at different levels. The growing demands of such initiatives imply the need for a fully-fledged strategy at EU level.


During the Policy Dialogue Conference on Day 2, all speakers called upon the EU to capitalize on the experience of Bridging the Gap, starting from Mónica Silvana Gónzalez, Member of the European Parliament, who supported the idea of European road map able to guide the EU Commission and the Member States in their efforts towards disability-inclusive cooperation practices. “We all agree that it is absolutely necessary to carry on working together […] with a spirit and a way of working based on the Team Europe concept”, added Anna Terrón Cusì, FIIAPP Director. “This approach is key to ultimate the goal of fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and to leave no one behind”, insisted Carmen Castiella Ruiz de Velasco, Director of cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean at AECID. A concept also reaffirmed by Walter Ehmeir, Head of Countries and Regions at ADA: “We are convinced that if we want to achieve the SDGs, if we want to leave no one behind, the inclusion of persons with disabilities in our activities is a must. […] the 15 percent of the world’s population or more than one billion people live with disabilities and the 80 percent of them live in developing countries and usually they belong to the poorest parts of the populations”.


The importance of the participatory approach carried on by BtG-II was mentioned as an added value by Luca MaestripieriACIS Director, “[…] all these products have been drafted with a participatory approach involving representatives of civil society and organisations of persons with disabilities”, an element also recalled in the intervention of the Vice-Chair of IDDC, Mette Müller Kristensen.


The conference concluded with the launch of the Call for Action on Inclusive Development Cooperation, presented by Nadia Hadad, EDF’s Board Member. Drafted by EDF and IDDC in collaboration with BtG-II, the document calls upon the European Union, its Member States and their development agencies to implement and promote international development policies and programmes inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities.


The Call for Action introduces a 12-point pathway to turn disability-inclusive strategies and action plans into concrete actions in line with the principles of the CRPD and of the SDGs. Ahead of a crucial year for the European Union and the disability movement, the Call for Action hopes to spearhead the European way forward to disability-inclusive international cooperation.


Did you miss the Conference? Watch it here!

Day 1 – Technical Seminar

Day 2 – Policy Dialogue Conference


You can also find and download the available materials related to this event:

Techincal Seminar
– Concept note: English, French, Spanish

– Agenda: English, French, Spanish

– Presentations:

Policy Dialogue Conference
– Concept note: English, French, Spanish

– Agenda: English, French, Spanish

– Presentations:

And don’t forget to check and disseminate our “Call for Action for Disability-Inclusive Development”! It’s availabe in: