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Disability and development

People with disabilities account for about 15 per cent of the world’s population. Eight out of ten live in countries of the South. The Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS), which has always been committed to protecting the most vulnerable segments of the population, strengthened its commitment following Italy’s signing and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006. In compliance with the Convention’s provisions, in 2013 the DGCS adopted the “Italian Cooperation Disability Action Plan”, the result of a participatory process with representatives from civil society, regions, local authorities, businesses and Italian institutions.

The drafting of the Plan and its implementation could rely on the collaboration of the Italian Disability and Development Network (RIDS). The Plan was formally included in the “Biennial Action Programme for the Promotion of the Rights and Integration of Persons with Disabilities” drawn up by the members of the National Observatory, which in turn became a Decree of the President of the Republic.

Many activities have been implemented since 2013, also through technical working groups, set up to follow up on the actions of the Plan’s five pillars:

  1. policies and strategies. Tools for planning and monitoring disability policies at the national level;
  2. inclusive design;
  3. accessibility and usability of environments, goods and services;
  4. humanitarian aid and emergency situations that include people with disabilities;
  1. enhancement of the experiences and skills of civil society and businesses.

In the framework of the actions foreseen by the Plan, regarding the exchange of information and experiences with cooperation agencies and international organisations in the sector, on 18 November 2015 the Foreign Ministry hosted the international Conference “Including Disability in Development Cooperation: experiences of collaboration between Governments, NGOs and DPOs”, jointly promoted by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) and RIDS. The Conference, which was opened and concluded by Director General Giampaolo Cantini, was attended by Italian and international representatives from institutions and civil society working to include the disability dimension in development programmes and policies.

Documents drafted by the Technical Working Groups

Handbook Humanitarian Aid and Disability – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)

The Handbook is part of the Action Plan dedicated to humanitarian aid and emergency situations and is intended to be a support guide for all Italian humanitarian workers so that their action in emergency situations respects the rights of persons with disabilities and carefully assesses their needs and inclusiveness. The latter, in particular, is of central importance in the protection and relief of persons with disabilities. The humanitarian strategy for people with disabilities should be based on a participatory approach, providing for the inclusion of people with disabilities, their families and their representative organisations from the earliest stages of programme and intervention design.


Inclusive education and development cooperation – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)

The centrality of inclusive education in guaranteeing the actual and full right to education for everybody has been formally recognised, so much so that it has been mentioned as a founding element of the education goal within the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. The document “Inclusive Education and Development Cooperation”, in the drafting of which RIDS, Save the Children and the Rome University La Sapienza participated, contains the theoretical and methodological statements in the field and an operational tool for the working out and evaluation of initiatives that see inclusive education in the perspective of social inclusion.


Guidelines on Accessibility Standards for Buildings financed by the DGCS – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)

Among the further actions that have been carried out, the document adopted in July 2015 “Guidelines on Accessibility Standards for Buildings financed by the DGCS” deserves particular attention. It was conceived with the aim of ensuring everyone, without distinction, access to the structures built within the framework of the various initiatives, as provided for in Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Inclusion, Disability, International Cooperation – The Experience of Italian Cooperation in the 2009-2014 period″. (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)

Resulting from the work of the Technical Group for Data Collection and Analysis, the publication provides a mapping of the initiatives financed by the DGCS in the 2009-2014 period, with quantitative and qualitative analyses, also with a view to orienting the future actions in favour of persons with disabilities.


DGCS documents

Italian Cooperation Disability Action Plan  – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)

In line with Italy’s signing and ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2013 the Italian Cooperation adopted the Disability Action Plan. The document is the result of an inclusive process started in 2011 with the MAE-RIDS Working Group (which includes the organisations AIFO, FISH, DPI, EDUCAID).

Additional documents

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)
European Disability Strategy for the 2010-2020 period – (Pdf Italian) (Pdf English)
Guidelines for Disability and Social Inclusion in Cooperation Interventions 2018 (Pdf Italian)