Global Disability Summit to take place in London (24 July 2018)

Published Date

To ensure people with disabilities are consistently and systematically included in international development and humanitarian assistance, the Global Disability Summit will galvanize the global effort to address disability inclusion in the poorest countries in the world, and act as the start point for major changes on this neglected issue.

Objectives of the Summit:

  • 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; and,
  • showcase best practice and evidence from across the world.

Participants: The audience for the GDS is wide ranging and includes Government Ministers, high level Private Sector and UN Officials, as well as a range of Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and disability rights activists from a range of backgrounds.

Themes and priorities:  The programme will be built around four themes:

  • Dignity and Respect for all: creating new social norms, tackling stigma and ensuring non-discrimination. The GDS will seek to ensure all people with disabilities live with dignity and respect, free from all forms of exclusion, stigma, discrimination and violence.  Commitments, for example, could include greater legislation at national level and/or quotas on representation and visibility of people with disabilities.
  • Inclusion in education – children and people with disabilities often lack access to education.  Deliverables may include: minimum standards of accessibility in schools, and greater leadership and investment in teacher training and accessible learning materials/resources.
  • Routes to economic empowerment – people with disabilities experience lower employment rates and opportunities than their non-disabled peers. Commitments may include: anti-discrimination laws, hiring quotas, vocational rehabilitation and universal design.
  • Harnessing technology and innovation – This area has significant potential to change lives in low income countries, targeting reduced prices and expanded access of context-specific assistive devices and technologies, e.g. through new mass markets; and also improved access to cross the ‘digital divide’ through new technologies.

+        two cross-cutting themes:  

  • conflict and humanitarian settings;
  • women and girls with disabilities. 


 On 23 July: Civil Society Day (see below)

 On 24 July:

Plenary and spotlight sessions will be the principal vehicles for communicating and discussing policies, good practices, problems, solutions and – ultimately – announcements about what action those at the Summit will take.

Plenary sessions:             

-   Plenary sessions last 45 minutes and take place in the main auditorium

-   Four plenaries will cover the four main themes of the Summit.

 Spotlight sessions:         

-     Spotlight sessions are likely to feel more informal than plenaries and can be more interactive.

-     These sessions will be delivered in parallel and will last around 45 minutes each.

-     Number and topics of all spotlight sessions has yet to be communicated, even though it is already known that there will be 2 sessions on persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings and conflict (see below), as well as one on gender

‘Spotlight Sessions’ dedicated specifically to humanitarian aid on 24 July: 

-       The first one will probably deal with protracted conflicts, and focus on the themes of education, long-term trauma, children with disabilities and livelihoods. Mr. David Milliband from IRC, a minister from the Jordanian Government, WHO and UNICEF have been approached to take the lead on these topics.

-       The second session, entitled  ”From Promise to Practice: Increasing the voice, choice and control of persons with disabilities in humanitarian response” (in short: “Policy to practice” session) is meant to become the major session of the Global Disability Summit devoted to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings. Addressing existing obstacles and examining efforts made by agencies, DPOs and donors to ensure equal access to services and practical implementation of legal and policy commitments on disability inclusion in all phases of the humanitarian programme cycle. Topics would cover the IASC Task Team guidelines, accountability to affected persons, women/girls and older persons with disabilities, protection mainstreaming, etc.

On both days, a Market place will provide opportunities for private sector, civil society and Government to showcase innovative solutions, programmes and/or achievements to GDS participants during breaks in the main programme e.g. early morning, coffee breaks and during lunch time. GDS participants will be able to move around a designated ‘Market Place’ space to:

  • Access a range of products/programmes that (can) support people with disabilities to move out of poverty in developing countries, often under challenging conditions. Each exhibition will have a line of sight to the GDS objectives above.
  • Communicate directly with product leads and innovators to learn more about the products/programmes being showcased.
  • See practical demonstrations and/or video/simulations/demonstrations to better learn how the products/programmes work in developing country conditions.


Civil Society Forum - 23 July 2018:

 IDA is hosting a one-day Civil Society Forum the day prior to the Global Disability Summit. The Forum will take place in the same venue. All invitees to the Summit will also be invited to attend the Forum. The purpose of the Forum is to amplify the voice and participation of persons with disabilities in the outcomes of the Summit, through their individual participation and that of representative organisations (DPOs). The Forum seeks to:

  1. Heighten attention to the importance of actively involving persons with disabilities, and their families through their representative organisations, in the development and implementation of legislation and polices in direct relation to implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as well as in all decision-making processes that affect their lives and full participation and inclusion in society.
  2. Provide a platform for civil society to influence the outcomes of the Summit through a unified statement that will be read during the opening of the Summit on behalf of the participants at the Forum. Major emphasis will be placed on the Priority Thematic Areas of the Summit. They include Stigma and Discrimination; Inclusive Education; Pathways to Economic Empowerment; Technology and Innovation; and Humanitarian Action.  
  3. To provide opportunities for persons with disabilities, their representative organizations and other actors working in support of disability inclusion, to engage with each other and with their stakeholders who will attend the Summit, to develop new relationships, partnerships and Summit commitments.

Please visit for periodic updates about the Civil Society Forum which are published every fortnight.