The Global Disability Summit (GDS) 2022 was arranged by Norway, Ghana and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) from 14-17 February 2022. The summit was held digitally due to the pandemic, yet thousands of individuals representing themselves, civil society and governments participated and contributed to a very productive and forward-looking summit.
The GDS is a global event created to shed light on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development and humanitarian aid and to decide on a tangible way forward towards more inclusive aid.
The overarching vision of the GDS 2022 was “Promoting Equality”.
Main events of GDS 2022
The first day of the summit, 14 February, was dedicated to The Youth Summit, where 3000 young persons from disabled persons' organizations (DPOs) got together in a globe-wide 24 hour session, starting in Asia, moving west via the Middle East and Africa, and ending in the Americas. The Youth Summit presented a 16-point Call for Action.
On the second day of the summit, 15 February, it was time for The Civil Society Forum. Some 1500 representatives of DPOs and NGOs around the globe got together to debate issues of critical relevance to the global disability movement and the realization of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The forum adopted a Civil Society Declaration at the end of the session.
The main GDS top level meeting took place on 16-17 February 2022. More than 7100 individuals participated and over 1400 commitments on disability inclusion in areas like health, education, livelihoods, crisis and conflict, and OPD involvement were announced from 188 different stakeholders. A co-chairs’ summary was published to sum it all up.
In addition, a myriad of side events were organized by governments and DPOs in the participating countries.
At the end of GDS 2022 it was decided that the next Global Disability Summit will be co-hosted by Germany, Jordan and IDA in Berlin in 2025.
GDS - from London to digital
The first Global Disability Summit was held in London in 2018 and was a milestone for the disability movement. The second summit, GDS 2022, was hosted by the Government of Norway, Government of Ghana and the International Disability Alliance. The Atlas Alliance and Norwegian and global organizations of persons with disabilities actively supported and took part in the preparations. Several southern DPOs gave input based on their experiences from the GDS in London in 2018 and their expectations for the digital GDS 2022. A main objective of the preparations was that the priorities be set by persons with disabilities in the Global South.
The convention and civil society
The GDS in February 2022 was important in itself, but the preparations for the summit were also crucial to increase awareness about the lives of persons with disabilities and about the UN convention created to protect their rights. The Convention ofthe Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been signed by 184 countries. The run-up to the summit provided an opportunity to take stock of how signatories to the convention are doing, encourage others to ratify, and help governments get their priorities straight.
Persons with disabilities are the single largest minority in the world, with more than 1 billion people of which 80 percent live in the global south. Stigma and other barriers often make disabled persons' participation and valuable contributions to society impossible. Civil society can help increase knowledge. Civil society must also follow the implementation of commitments given at the GDS in order to remind and support their authorities in putting words into action. The time is now!