UNESCO’s Inclusive Policy Lab

The world is in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is the pledge that “no-one will be left behind” with governments undertaking to reach “the furthest behind first”. The Sustainable Development Goals have renewed international focus on the need for much greater social inclusion, and for the need for deliberative action to reach marginalised groups. Collective achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals highlight challenges for people with disabilities in enjoying and benefiting fully in economic, social and environmental development. In particular, six of the Sustainable Development Goals incorporate social inclusion through their objectives, drawing focus on how institutions and societies can deprive people with disabilities of full participation and enjoyment of rights.

This brings us to the agenda behind the UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab and to the UNESCO Analytical Framework for Inclusive Policy Design.

The Inclusive Policy Lab was born from two realisations. The first was that although the appreciation for the necessity of social inclusion was growing, there was no framework available to measure if a policy was inclusive or not. The second was the acknowledgement that the rich knowledge developed by practitioners working on these issues was often getting lost rather than shared up the line to policy makers or entering the curiosity of researchers. The Inclusive Policy Lab works as the nexus for these key actors in social inclusion. Through the creation of a meeting place, the Inclusive Policy Lab supports the co-creation of knowledge and its translation into inclusive policies.

The Inclusive Policy Lab has four regional arms – South-East Asia, Central America, Southern Africa and Western Africa, where through the UNESCO field offices local stakeholders are brought together to contextualise inclusive social development and to formulate transformative inclusive policies. The South-East Asia field office are involved in two very interesting partnerships promoting the rights and active citizenship of people with disabilities. In Indonesia, there is an ongoing partnership with Yayasan Kota Kita, an organisation contending to bridge the massive research data gaps on the needs of people with disabilities. This partnership has set out to strengthen the inclusive character of evolving urban environments. Currently the initiative is being piloted in the city of Solo in West Java, with the view of developing a scalable model, which can be replicated elsewhere. In the newly independent country of Timor Leste, the Inclusive Policy Lab is working with the national policy stakeholders to strengthen the position of people with disabilities in public policy. The Inclusive Policy Lab has been part of the evaluation of the National Policy for Inclusion and Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Analytical Report on Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Timor Leste.

The online component of the Inclusive Policy Lab provides users with three core resources – the Inclusive Policy Markers, E-Teams and Support System. The Inclusive Policy Markers are quality and process related safeguards to help operationalise and design inclusive policies. For the first time a tool is available to conduct an informal policy assessment under the criteria of inclusion. The Inclusive Policy Lab hosts a growing resource of policy approaches and solutions. The E-teams are online collaborative environments that enable group work and the co-production of joint documents and action plans. The E-teams can help sustain group work beyond the lifespan of a project, boast effectiveness and delivery and make process and results known and visible. The Support System offers users access to a network of experts facilitating the dispersal of evidence and know how on inclusive policies.

The Inclusive Policy Lab recently enjoyed a successful collaboration with PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society), an organisation working with people with PMLD in Scotland. The Inclusive Policy Lab presented at their annual conference. PAMIS now have two open E-Teams, one of which to share knowledge and their agenda for Changing Places toilets.

We invite you to check out the Inclusive Policy Lab and become part of the international movement on social inclusion.

By The Inclusive Policy Lab

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