Palau disability and inclusion activist Villaney Remengesau spoke before the participants of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development side event held in New York on July 17. (Screenshot of UN Web TV video footage)

A Palauan disability and inclusion activist underscored the need to highlight accessibility in the talks of inclusion, saying it is the “key for inclusive implementation of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Palau disability and inclusion activist Villaney Remengesau, who was speaking before the participants of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development side event held in New York on July 17, said that an accessible environment will benefit everyone and not just the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and that it will pave way to more autonomy and independence.

Remengesau, as a representative of the PWD sector in Palau and the Pacific, pointed out that the regional group, Pacific Disability Forum, in which she is a part of has seen the need to develop a Pacific Blueprint for comprehensive accessibility standards, citing that not all Pacific countries have a building code.

“There is a need to have this Pacific Blueprint so that it can be applied to all Pacific countries,” Remengesau said.

Remengesau also reminded participants to translate partnerships and policies for empowerment and inclusion into “real actions”, explaining prior to this that there has always been talks about empowerment and inclusion at the community level but these are “rarely operationalized.”

“We often want to empower the individuals but yet we do not come to a consensus of how they are included and empowered in the community,” Remengesau said.

Remengesau also shared the initiative she started in Palau called Community-based Inclusive Development that is a model of development that works from the grassroots level and up.

She added that accessibility is not just an obligation under the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) but also a key for inclusive implementation of SDGs. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)