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Webinar ONU su “Reimagining cooperation on sport for persons with disabilities, leaving no one behind”

Considerazioni introduttive dell’Ambasciatrice Mariangela Zappia, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al Webinar ONU su “Reimagining cooperation on sport for persons with disabilities, leaving no one behind” —


I would like to thank Director Daniela Bas and UN DESA for organizing this timely webinar on cooperation on sport for persons with disabilities, and extend my greetings to the Permanent Representatives of Qatar, Monaco and Japan.

We have been witnessing, during these long months, how much the impact of COVID-19 has deepened existing inequalities, including for the world’s more than one billion persons with disabilities. The Secretary General’s thematic brief on “Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19” has shown to what extent persons with disabilities are disadvantaged by the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19.

The full inclusion of persons with disabilities within the society is a top priority for Italy: since the beginning of the pandemic the Italian Government has put in place specific measures, defined by the newly established Office for Policies for People with Disabilities which reports directly to the office of the Prime Minister, to make sure that no one would be left behind in this difficult situation.

A number of urgent provisions for the assistance to pupils with disabilities through services aimed at supporting distance learning were adopted together with the provision of school resources specifically intended for students with specific learning disabilities and other special educational needs; the set up of special units designed to guarantee the delivery of home health and social-health services in favor of people with disabilities presenting conditions of fragility; economic measures for the protection of the health and work of people with disabilities, including the provision of extraordinary leave for the parents of people with disabilities, and priority criteria for accessing “smart working” for employees with disabilities or having a person with disabilities in their family. So a number of measures including further support to the Fund for assistance to people with serious disabilities without family support. A specific allocation was given for LIS interpreters, and I want to thank the interpreter here right now, for all the communications by the Civil Protection and the Prime Minister: during an emergency more than ever, communication is key to inclusion, and it is essential to make sure that institutional communication is fully accessible, providing all the necessary information to all, so that we don’t leave anyone behind.

Some specific measures were taken also for sports for people with disabilities. Measures adopted during the lockdown have taken into account the needs of people with disabilities and provided some exceptions, for instance by allowing the possibility to have rehabilitation activities for people needing them.

Some tools are essential for inclusion. Digitalisation is definitely one of those. Next November 17th Italy will participate in the European Inclusion Summit organized by the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union to discuss the content of the European Disability Strategy 2020-2030. Italy will intervene within the panel on digitalisation, to show how the Government is implementing digitalisation in an accessible manner.

Sport is a particularly powerful tool for inclusion and equality. Since I have the occasion now to do it, I am proud to announce that Italy is contributing 570,000 USD to fund a project on the Social inclusion of children and youth with autism through sports, to be executed by UN DESA, in cooperation with UNDP, UNICEF, and the UN Country Teams in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Panama, starting from January 2021. The project, that was expressly designed together with the Division for Inclusive Social Development of DESA, is aimed at strengthening the capacity of Governments, civil society organizations and sport associations, to jointly elaborate plans for the full and effective inclusion through sport of persons with disabilities, with a specific focus on autism. At the same time, through the active involvement of trainers from the Italian NGO “Progetto Filippide”, it aims at developing the skills of sport instructors to train young people with autism and their family members and monitor their progress in sporting activities over time.

I thank you again for this opportunity and I give you back the floor. Thank you.