APEC aims to achieve disability-inclusive developments across all its member economies and across all sectors through a streamlined and effective mechanism to advance the participation of persons with disabilities in the economy.
A high-level meeting on “Equal Access, Inclusive Development” was held during the Economic Leaders’ Week in Beijing, November 2014, where a Joint Initiative on Equal Access and Inclusive Development for Persons with Disabilities was introduced.
An open-ended “Group of Friends on Disability Issues” (GOFD) was formed to seek common ground, share experiences and identify ways to bring about inclusive developments to the benefit of persons with disabilities. There were six founding members—Australia, China, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, the Philippines and the United States—who were later joined by Russia and Chile.
The initiative took a significant step forward during the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings held in Boracay Island, Philippines, in May 2015. A Concept Paper on Promoting Disability-inclusive Development in the Asia-Pacific Region was submitted by China, co-sponsored by Australia, Malaysia, Peru, and the United States. It was discussed and adopted by consensus by the SOM Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) and by senior officials.
The paper agreed to establish the “APEC Group of Friends on Disability” (hereinafter referred to as “APEC GOFD”) under the SCE. Thus the GOFD, and the issue of disability and economy, was officially incorporated into the APEC framework.
Through the sharing of information and data about laws and promising practices from member economies, businesses, nongovernment organisations, disabled people’s organisations, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, the APEC GOFD will serve as a resource and voice within APEC and other relevant bodies for pragmatic cooperation among APEC economies and across APEC working groups.
Given the cross-cutting nature of disability issues, the GOFD shall take into account in its practice the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where appropriate, bearing in mind the advantages and objectives of APEC to promote economic cooperation.