Accessibility October 17, 2020
National Institute for Urban Affairs & World Enabled to expand inclusion, accessibility in Indian cities
The National Institute for Urban Affairs and World Enabled have announced a new cooperation agreement
to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’ local inclusion targets.
Nearly 54% of all people on earth live in cities. More than one million people per week move into urban areas. By 2045, the world’s urban population will increase by 1.5 times to six billion.
Asia is going through a historic demographic transformation from a rural society to an urban society that is far larger than any transformation seen in the past, in any other part of the globe. By 2025, the majority of Asia’s population will be urban. Cities are also both centres of prosperity and even exclusion. Nearly 25% of people living in cities worldwide experience barriers on account of age or disability.
In India, this is especially important where nearly 400 million people live in cities or urban areas. This number is estimated to reach 875 million by 2050. They experience lower rates of health, education, and employment compared to their non-disabled peers. These trends create challenges and present opportunities to create a more equitable urban habitat for all society sections.
Such an approach will require organisations like the National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA), the apex think tank for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs of the Government of India (GoI), and World Enabled. World Enabled is a global education, communications, and strategic non- profit organisation advocating for people with disabilities’ rights and influencing inclusive urban planning policies.
This agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalises the mutual interaction between the NIUA and the WE at a strategic and working level, focusing on the development of inclusive standards, frameworks, facilitate knowledge exchange and undertake capacity development of key local and global stakeholders. The agreement will also support research and help document good-practices on inclusive and accessible pandemic responses in a diverse set of Indian cities.
Capacity building to be strengthened
The partnership will kick-off with webinars organised on relevant topics and a survey to assess acceptable practices and challenges that urban leaders have faced before and during their pandemic response. The research and focus groups will help inform investments and capacity-building efforts.
The collaborative endeavour between NIUA and World Enabled promises to make a substantial impact and improve the lives of persons with disabilities in India, by accelerating efforts in building accessible, safe and inclusive smart cities and leveraging their technical capacities in developing and sharing knowledge and training resources. – Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute for Urban Affairs
This partnership strategically facilitates inclusive development and promotes accessibility in Indian cities, adds Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda, President, World Enabled, calling the NIUA a leader in driving forth the world’s most significant urban transformation. “World Enabled will support NIUA in ensuring that the urban transformation is responsive to the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities supporting Indian cities with their progressive realisation of the inclusion targets of the SDGs.”
This new partnership, including a webinar co-hosted with NIUA, builds on both an existing programme, Building Accessible, Safe & Inclusive Indian Cities (BASIIC), at NIUA supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) of the Government of United Kingdom and on the significant efforts by World Enabled and its global partners to define the challenges and opportunities that the contemporary and future cities present to persons with disabilities.
“There is a need for mainstream universal access across the project lifecycle, especially in urban development projects across Indian cities. We are delighted to help ensure that urban policies and programmes are inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities, older persons, and children. We look forward to supporting the needs of NIUA and better help address the needs of various city leaders, Development Authorities, and Urban Local Bodies across India,” Parul Sharma, Country Program Manager (India), World Enabled.
The two organisations will jointly leverage their respective programs, global networks, research, and collaborative tools to support and advance their work in Indian cities.
The MOU plans to advance cooperation on a series of emerging Urban Planning frameworks, research, data, tools, initiatives, and strategies to promote and develop inclusive urban environments across India.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with World Enabled. Their experience supporting governments to fully implement legal mandates to inclusion and diversity in urban development will help us better align program and institutional efforts to global norms”, adds A N Kishore, Program Coordinator, NIUA.