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Supporting disability mainstreaming in European Development Cooperation: moving up a notch

Group photo of the meeting with Commissioner Jutta Urpilaine

Mainstreaming disability in international cooperation is one of the three core areas of work of Bridging the Gap. The project’s field experience, combined with dedicated analysis and studies, have been supporting European actors, both at European Union (EU) and Member States’ level, to ensure greater consideration of the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their own activities, with particular attention to the future post-2020 programming period of the European Union. Some products can already be found on the project e-Library, and more will follow in the coming months.

In between the end of 2019 and the first trimester of 2020, Bridging the Gap has accelerated and enhanced its efforts, looking ahead to the final year of project implementation. On December 5th, the project organised the Conference “Disability Inclusion in Development Cooperation – The European Way Forward” to present and discuss good practices to contribute to the new European Disability Strategy (EDS) and notably to its external dimension, currently under review. This event was not only the occasion to present the project’s contribution to the consultation on the new EDS, but also to present good practices worth replicating from EU and non-EU actors belonging to both institutions and organisations of persons with disabilities.

The Conference’s outcomes also served as a basis for the event “Inclusive international cooperation: Making it a reality”, co-organised by the European Disability Forum (EDF), project partner, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA). The Conference followed-up on Bridging the Gap efforts to inclusive EU funding for development cooperation and advanced new tools and proposals in this direction.

In early February, four Bridging the Gap partners attended the Annual Meeting of the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network which took place in Washington DC, United States. Two of them, the Fundación Internacional y para Iberoamérica de Administración y Políticas Públicas (FIIAPP) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), made their debut in the happening, with the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) being long-time members of the group.

The meeting pivoted around the main topics of interest for the group – from advocating for inclusive development cooperation to just transition, from inclusive education to social protection – paving the way for new and innovative forms of collaboration in the field of disability inclusion in low- and middle-income countries. Until its conclusion, Bridging the Gap will continue to collaborate with and support GLAD through its partners and activities.

Last but not least, Bridging the Gap director Federico Martire met on March 6th with EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, in charge of International Partnerships, as part of a meeting organised by project partners EDF and International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). The gathering was the occasion to emphasise the importance of the EU leadership for inclusive cooperation, following a twin-track approach as in the experience of Bridging the Gap.

The following months will be key to ensure the consideration of the inclusion of persons with disabilities in European development cooperation: Bridging the Gap and its partners are at the forefront of the EU commitment for inclusion and human rights and will continue delivering guidance and expertise for achieving results.