Sightsavers blog

Civil society forums are key to leaving no one behind

Ross McMullan, March 2017
People standing and clapping in a lecture theatre.

“Now we are working to make sure that UN member states deliver on their promise”

We’ve described Friday 25 September 2015 as an incredible and world-changing day. This was the day the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Unlike their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs put people with disabilities at the heart of the agenda with a promise to ‘leave no one behind’. This promise had the potential to change everything. This is what our Put Us in the Picture campaign had been calling for.

Today, we’re 15 months into this 15-year agenda, known as the 2030 Agenda. Now we are working to make sure that UN member states deliver on their promise in each continent, country and community around the world.

Key to this delivery is the High Level Political Forum. Once a year the UN member states meet to follow up and assess how we are progressing towards reaching the targets of the 2030 Agenda. Prior to this, regional forums such as the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development are held to review and strengthen the regional plans to deliver the SDGs.

A valuable part of this process is the civil society forums. This is a chance for the organisations that represent or work with members of the public, including people with disabilities, in a whole host of different settings, to contribute to the conversations taking place at the regional forums.

This week, the civil society forum leading up to the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development took place. We were thrilled to hear that Anuradha had been invited to participate and give a talk on health and human rights.

Voices like Anuradha’s are incredibly important in these conversations. As a Disabled Persons Organisation leader in her local community she more than any national or international leader knows the challenges people with disabilities face.

This is what our Put Us in the Picture campaign is calling for.

We want people with disabilities to be heard and to truly play a part in the process of change in order for the outcome to be meaningful, relevant and lasting. We want the international community to make sure that people with disabilities are part of making the decisions that affect their lives. If not, then the proposed solutions will continue to leave people with disabilities behind. If the incredible potential of the SDGs is to be realised, we need to listen to people like Anuradha.

So as representatives from Asia-Pacific region meet this week, we call on them to listen to those voices – it is the only way to ensure that the SDGs and the promise to leave no one behind will be delivered.

About our campaign

Put Us in the Picture calls on the international community to make global development inclusive of people with disabilities and to ensure that people with disabilities are heard at key forums such as the UN General Assembly, the High Level Political Forum (the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including regional forums, such as the Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD).

To find out more about our campaign, visit

By Ross McMullen, Sightsavers Policy Campaign Officer

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