The Zero Project

One billion people live with a disability worldwide. Many of them live in extreme poverty, survive in large institutions, go (if they do) to segregated schools and have no access to decent work opportunities. In May 2008 the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) entered into force and highlighted the importance of an inclusive society, in which persons with disabilities actively participate in the political, economic, social and cultural life. However, the lack of expertise on how to plan and execute policies that protect the rights of persons with disabilities, remains a major challenge. In response to this shortage of policy role models, the World Future Council identifies exemplary policies in this field, as long-term partner of the Essl Foundation's Zero Project – For a world without barriers (www.zeroproject.org).

  • The Zero Project publishes annual reports: 2012 2013 2014 
  • Every year we organize the Zero Project Conference in Vienna: 2012 2013 2014
  • To bring our findings to the attention of decision-makers from around the world, we speak at conferences (e.g. the IPU Assembly) and hold events  at the European Parliament (June 2012), the Human Rights Council (March 2013 and 2014), the Conference of State Parties (July 2013) as well as on national, regional and local level.


June 2014: Upcoming Events

The Zero Project Team is currently busy with preparing for the following two events:

  • Side event: Creating accessible and inclusive societies for all: progress and challenges in implementing article 9 of the CRPD - 11/6, 1:15-2:30pm, New York
    The Essl Foundation and the WFC will support this side event, organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Missions of Austria and Mexico, to highlight the importance of accessibility measures for persons with disabilities. Michael Fembek, Head of the Zero Project, will be presenting the Zero Project Report 2014. The event takes place at the UN Headquarters on the occasion of the Seventh Session of the Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Side event: Accessibility under victim assistance norms - 24/6, 12-2pm, Maputo
    In the context of the Third Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Essl Foundation and the World Future Council, together with the Permanent Mission of Austria, will organize a side event focusing on the implementation of accessibility measures as part of victim assistance norms. Ingrid Heindorf will be presenting the Zero Project Report 2014, which collected a considerable number of innovative practices and policies promoting accessibility from around the world.


Zero Project 2015: Independent Living and Political Participation

At the core of our Zero Project Report and Conference 2015 we will focus to research about innovative policies and practices implementing UN CRPD Articles 19 (Independent Living) and 29 (Political Participation). As in previous years we will reach out to civil society and disabled peoples’ organizations, CRPD Committee members, academics and policy-makers around the world for nominating innovative practices and policies. By the end of September 2014, the Zero Project Scientific Advisory Board will be selecting the most promising ones as "Innovative Policy 2015" and "Innovative Practice 2015". Participate and nominate a practice or policy! Find the nomination form and instructions here.

 

1 April 2014: Roundtable “Philantrophie & Handicap”

© World Future Council

On 1 April 2014, Ingrid Heindorf, Zero Project Head of Policy Research, participated at the Roundtable “Philantrophie & Handicap”, organized by the Chancellerie d’Etat du Genève and SwissFoundations, and hosted by Fondation Lombard Odier. About 50 representatives of foundations and public authorities attended and discussed how public-private partnerships can further improve the situation of persons with disabilities.

After the welcome and introduction by Mauro Poggia, Geneva State Councellor, and Anja Wyden Guelpa, Geneva State Chancellor, the roundtable speakers Marc Maugué, Fondation Wilsdorf, and Stephan Eliez, Fondation Pôle autisme, elaborated on their experiences with public-private partnerships in the area of disability. This first part was moderated by Karin Jestin, Secretary General of Fondation Lombard/Swissfoundations.

The second part of the roundtable was moderated by Anja Wyden Guelpa, Geneva State Chancellor. It discussed, firstly, selected innovative practice examples from the Zero Project Report 2013 and, secondly, the current work of Geneva’s Disability Directorate with Michel Blum. From the Zero Project Report 2013, Ingrid Heindorf presented in particular Discovering Hands, which engages blind women to detect breast cancer, and Specialisterne, which provides meaningful jobs to people with autism. Both examples caught considerable attention from participants. >>Invitation >>Programme >>Presentation  >>Article in Feuille d'avis officielle de la Republique et Canton de Genève (in French, PDF)

 

20 March 2014, Geneva: Side event at the Human Rights Council

On the occasion of the 25th Human Rights Council, the Permanent Mission of Austria and the International Disability Alliance, together with the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Thailand, supported by the Zero Project, the Essl Foundation and the World Future Council, held a side event on “Re-engineering society for inclusion: Implementation of the CRPD and other international obligations on accessibility”. The event, which took place at Room 27, Palais des Nations, on Thursday 20th March 2014, at 1-3pm, was moderated by H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi, Ambassador of Austria, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva. Speakers were:

  • Michael Fembek, Head of the Zero Project, Essl Foundation (Presentation in PDF)
  • Ellen Walker, Human Rights Officer, Intergovernmental Processes, International Disability Alliance (IDA)
  • Firoz Ali Alizada, Campaign Manager, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
  • Krista Orama, Associate Expert, Human Rights and Disability, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • Susan Schorr, Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Please find more information on our Flyer and in the Final Report

 

27-28 February 2014, UN Vienna: Third Zero Project Conference

© World Future Council

The third Zero Project Conference "Accessibility: Innovative Policies and Practices for Persons with Disabilities" was held on 27 and 28th February 2014 at the United Nations Vienna International Centre. More than 55 innovative practices and policies from around the world covering all areas of accessibility were presented. Topics included disability-inclusive development, barrier-free cities, ICT accessibility, accessible products and services, and much more. (Programme)

Amongst the many outstanding speakers were:

  • Ioannis Vardakastanis, Chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA);
  • Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, DG Justice, European Commission;
  • Ron McCallum, Vice Chair of the CRPD Committee;
  • Mukthar Al Shibani and Betty Dion, Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES);
  • H.E. Luis Gallegos and Martin Gould, Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict);
  • Anna Lawson, University of Leeds and ANED;
  • as well as more than 350 parliamentarians, academics, NGO and foundation representatives, social entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as disability rights activists, attended.

For more information, visit our brand-new website.

 

© Zero Project

 

9 October 2013: Ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life

The Zero Project has participated at the 129th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which was held on 7-9th October 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. In particular, the Zero Project's representative in Geneva, Ms Ingrid Heindorf, highlighted the project's policy work during the Assembly's panel discussion on the promotion of international commitments and defending the rights of vulnerable groups on Wednesday, 9th October. At the panel discussion parliamentarians with disabilities, including Mirko Tomassoni, MP and former Head of State from San Marino, launched a Call to Act: Ensuring the Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Political and Public Life which comprises recommendations to the IPU and IPU Member Parliaments for how to best promote the rights of persons with disabilities, in particular concerning their participation in political and public life. To this latter document the World Future Council's Geneva representative, Ingrid Heindorf,  provided considerable input. Please find the document in English and French here below: CALL TO ACT / APPEL A L’ACTION

 

Zero Project 2014: Accessibility as a Human Right

No one can enjoy a human right to which one does not have access. For this simple reason Accessibility will be at the core of our third Zero Project Conference in 2014 and specifically we will focus to research about innovative policies implementing UN CRPD Article 9 and thus providing for the accessibility of the built environment, transport, information and communication as well as other goods and services available to the public. As in previous years we reached out to civil society and disabled peoples’ organizations, CRPD Committee members, academics and policy-makers around the world for nominating innovative practices and policies. By the end of August 2013 we had received over 65 policy nominations and about 250 practice nominations from about 60 countries!! Thanks to everyone who participated!

 

17 July 2013, New York: Economic empowerment

On 17th July 2013 the World Future Council and the Essl Foundation supported hosting the side event “Economic empowerment of persons with disabilities: where we are now and the way forward post-2015″ at the 6th Conference of the State Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The event was co-organized by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights as well as the Permanent Missions of Austria, Finland, Thailand and New Zealand. More than 140 participants attended the event, which focused on ways to include the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 agenda in light of the forthcoming High-level Meeting on Disability and Development and beyond, with a focus on promoting decent work opportunities and ensuring the realization of employment rights (Article 27 of the CRPD) as essential means to achieve economic empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The discussion was opened and led by H.E. Jim McLay, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations in New York.

Among the speakers were:

  • Facundo Chávez, Disability Advisor, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Stig Langvad, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Zero Project: Michael Fembek, Programme Manager, Essl Foundation, and Ingrid Heindorf, Human Rights Officer, World Future Council (Presentation PDF / Text DOC )
  • Monthian Buntan, Member of the Senate of Thailand and Secretary-General of the Thai Blind Peoples’ Foundation (Presentation PDF)
  • Patrick Clarke, Board Member of the International Disability Alliance

Please find the programme here. Photos and press release are available on the Zero Project Website.

 

25 March 2013, Quito: Statement at the IPU 128th Assembly

Ingrid Heindorf with WFC Councillor Anda Filip and the delegation of San Marino © Mirko Tommassoni

On 25th March the 128th IPU Assembly held a panel discussion on the rights of children with disabilities. According to the first ever World Report on Disability, the number of children aged 0–14 years experiencing disability is estimated at 95 million, with 13 million children experiencing severe difficulties. Most of these children face obstacles in terms of access to education, health care in general and rehabilitation and reintegration in society. For some children, their disability means being stigmatized and excluded. In low-income countries, the situation is even more worrying. Meaningful action involving all stakeholders, in particular parliamentarians, must be taken. Such action should result in the provision of better care and assistance to these children and should include ensuring equal opportunities for them and their rehabilitation and integration into their community. Click to read the full Concept note

The panel as well as the debate afterwards was moderated by Mr Ian Liddel-Grainger MP, United Kingdom. Speakers included:

  • Ms Susana Sottoli, Deputy Director, Programme Division, UNICEF
  • Mr Xavier Torres, Member of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  Ecuador,
  • Mr Boukary Savadogo, Director of Solidarité nationale in Burkina Faso

The World Future Council got the opportunity to highlight its work in the field of children with disabilities. Click to read the Statement by Ingrid Heindorf.

 

7 March 2013, Geneva: Side Event at the Human Rights Council

© Zero Project

The side event Promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities: Where are we now and the way forward post-2015 on 7th March at the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council was a great success! It was held by the Permanent Missions of Austria, Finland, New Zealand and Thailand to the United Nations, as well as the International Disability Alliance, with the support of the Essl Foundation and the World Future Council.

About 40 representatives from Permanent Missions such as the US, UK, Spain, Lithuania, Australia, Norway, Thailand, New Zealand, Austria, Finland and other countries as well as representatives from international organizations such as the ILO, OHCHR, Council of Europe, UNICEF, the International Campaign for the Ban of Landmines and others attended.

At the event we could present the Zero Project's work on innovative policies and practices that promote employment rights of persons with disabilities and discussed how to best enhance the inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 MDG agenda.

Please find here the programme overview, our presentation and press release!

 

18-19 February 2013, Vienna: Second Zero Project Conference

© Phoenix Society. Awarded photograph from the Workability International photo contest 2009

In collaboration with the International Labour Organization, the World Future Council, the Essl Foundation and Bank Austria held their second Zero Project Conference on "Employment Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Innovative Policies and Innovative Practices" on 18-19th February 2013.

Coming to Vienna, Austria, from around Europe and around the world, we welcomed, amongst others:

  • Barbara Murray, Senior Disability Specialist of the International Labour Organization;
  • Javed Abidi, Vice Chair of the International Disability Alliance;
  • Rudolf Hundstorfer, Austrian Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection;
  • Şafak Pavey, Member of the Turkish parliament;
  • Miguel Ángel Cabra de Luna, Co-Chair of the European Consortium of Foun­dations on Human Rights and Disability;
  • William Kiernan, Dean and Research Professor at the School of Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts;
  • as well as more than 240 parliamentarians, academics, NGO and foundation representatives, social entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as disability rights activists, will attend.

Click to see the conference programme (full / at a glance), participants list as well as speaker's CVs!

 

New Policy Toolkit for Human Rights on FuturePolicy.org

Good political solutions exist for most of the essential challenges to humanity. To highlight these already existing solutions the World Future Council has launched a new toolkit on policies protecting and advancing the rights of persons with disabilities at www.futurepolicy.org.

The objective of the FuturePolicy.org website is to present sustainable solutions to decision makers and other users and provide them with helpful tools, such as sample texts, case studies, key policy principles and background information. 

Many of the policies of the new toolkit have been researched for the Zero Project, which advocates the rights of persons with disabilities internationally. The new section concentrates (for now) on policies in the areas of anti-discrimination and accessibility, independent living, supported decision-making, access to justice, inclusive education as well as work and employment.

 

3 December 2012, Vienna: Launch of the Zero Project Report 2013

On the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, the Zero Project Report 2013, with its special focus on employment, was launched at the International Film Festival for Human Rights. At the launch, some of the most striking findings and figures of this year’s research were presented and the award-winning Korean movie “Planet of snail” was shown.

The Zero Project Report 2013 includes:
•    Survey of 23 Social Indicators on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 55 countries
•    Survey of 10 Social Indicators focusing on the employment of persons with disabilities in 82 countries
•    40 Innovative Practices that promote the employment of persons with disabilities
•    11 Innovative Policies that promote the employment of persons with disabilities

Browse this year's results online and download the full report or executive summary! A special report has been published in German. The Zero Project Report is annually published by the Essl Foundation and has been produced in collaboration with the World Future Council.

 

Zero Project 2013: The Right of Persons with Disabilities to Work

After the great success of the first Zero Project Conference held on January 22-23, 2012 in Vienna, for next year’s conference we are focusing on employment rights.

We invited disabled people's organizations and employment experts from all around the world to put forward their nominations of outstanding policies by 15th May 2012 that, under the principles of the UN Convention, realize the Right of Persons with Disabilities to Work, on an equal basis with others.

Out of the 31 policy nominations researched by the World Future Council, the International Scientific Advisory Board selected eleven policies for the Zero Project Report 2013 and the second Zero Project Conference on “The Right to Work: Innovative Policies and Practices for Persons with Disabilities” on 18-19 February 2013 in Vienna.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this important effort!!

 

21 June 2012, Brussels: A Prelude to the European Accessibility Act

On 21st June 2012, findings of the international Zero Project Report 2012 were discussed with European parliamentarians, policy experts and disabled people's organizations, underpinning the call for a European solution on accessibility.

This conference, organized by Dr Ádám Kósa MEP, President of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament, the World Future Council and the Essl Foundation, in collaboration with the European Disability Forum, hosted a debate on how to unlock Europe’s potential through accessibility led by the members of Bureau of the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament: Dr Ádám Kósa MEP and Elisabeth Schroedter MEP, as well as, amongst others, Donata Vivanti, Vice-President of the European Disability Forum. In addition, Johan ten Geuzendam, Head of Unit Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the European Commission's DG Justice, opened our final discussion as Keynote Speaker. 

The conference took place from 12.30 to 15.00 in JAN 6Q1, at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Download the final programme and our brochure "Findings on Accessibility of the Zero Project"

 

22-23 January 2012, Vienna: First Zero Project Conference

© "Wheels of marriage" by Krzysztof Goluch, an awarded photograph from the WHO photo contest 2005 "Health and disability"

In 2011, the World Future Council, together with the Essl Foundation, reached out to all the UNCRPD Committee members, to international organizations and to disability rights experts, for nominations of policies that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Amongst the 18 laws nominated, eight policies have been chosen in a multilevel selection process. The international policy examples concern the most pressing issues world’s stakeholders will need to address: anti-discrimination; supported decision-making; education; access to justice; and independent living. They were presented and discussed with 250 parliamentarians, representatives from academia, NGOs and foundations from all around the world, at the International Conference on “Good Policies for Persons with Disabilities” on 22-23 January 2012 in Vienna (programme).

 

Contact

For more information about the Zero Project, please visit www.zeroproject.org. And feel free to contact Ingrid Heindorf, our Policy Officer for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

"Yes moko, just like the sea which has to move its tides
so we can collect Kaimoana at certain times.
Rules give harmony to our lives
so we live with
minimum conflicts.
Working in harmony with others, ae moko, it’s nature’s
act of saying,
Let us make music all together
if not in reality — then make it your dream."

WFC Councillor Pauline Tangiora


Future Justice…

...is about thinking and acting differently, based on respect, dignity and mutual trust

…considers not just what is happening now, but the effects of our actions in the years, decades and centuries to come

… is a means of creating new rules for how we live and work, pass laws and run countries

…is the giving of rights to the poorest, the weakest, the ignored, to the planet and to the other living creatures we share it with

…is a protection for all the people yet to be born,  whose lives we are blighting before they have even started

…is about what we do now.  Our actions today will determine the conditions of life for centuries to come