South Asia has a key challenge in ensuring safe and inclusive cities in the context of rapid urbanization. It is the second most rapidly urbanizing region on earth, with only Sub-Saharan Africa’s urban population increasing at a faster rate. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented human suffering and has badly hit the marginalized sections of the society in South Asia and other parts of Asia and the Pacific. The pandemic has exposed and worsened high levels of vulnerability, and unprecedentedly high demand for social protection measures. From the viewpoint of leaving no one behind (LNOB), a key principle of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the vulnerability of disabled populations has not been sufficiently addressed in the development policy of South Asian countries in the region. In this context, South Asian governments are required to develop/incorporate and implement disability-inclusive urban policy and planning to achieve Sustainable Cities (SDG 11), which provide equitable access to Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), following the LNOB principle. There is a need to reduce inequalities (SDG 10), and policymakers in South Asia require support with technical expertise and innovative policy tools to ensure that their cities become disability inclusive.
The workshop will discuss the global, regional and national trends, good practices on LNOB, and design way forward. The workshop will also engage participants of the workshop towards launching of a multi-level stakeholders’ network to facilitate mainstreaming LNOB in national urban policies and programmes (SDGs 11 and 6) in South Asia. The workshop which is being organized by ESCAP, jointly with UN-Habitat and UN-OICT, will be attended by relevant high level officials of central and local governments, and other relevant stakeholders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka.