Victor Santiago Pineda
Stephen Meyer
John Paul Cruz


Over the next 32 years, cities will shape virtually every aspect of global development, including the manner in which rights to housing, health, and education are won or wasted, implemented or ignored (Marcuse and Van Kempen, 2011; Sassen, 2011). The urban century can transform the productive capacity and outcomes of the estimated 400-600 million urban citizens who live with disabilities. This number is set to increase dramatically by 2050 when 66% of the global population will be living in cities (Acuto, 2013; Alger, 2013). Of the projected increase of 2.5 billion urban dwellers,[1] 15-20% are expected to be persons with disabilities.[2] Well-planned cities have dramatically improved the social and economic outcomes for individuals with a range of disabilities, their families, and the larger communities they participate in.  Well-planned cities take into consideration the widest range of needs and incorporate design standards that assume that a significant portion of the population may have difficulty seeing, hearing, or moving around without assistance.

A growing body of research now shows that the most pressing issue faced by millions of persons with disabilities worldwide is not their disability but rather social exclusion (Abendroth et al., 2015; Ahmmad et al., 2014; Al Qadi et al., 2012; Amedeo and Speicher, 1995; Anguelovski, 2013; Bezmez, 2013). Poor planning, and unregulated urban development can have devastating consequences for persons with disabilities. According to the United Nations CRPD Committee, “Without access to the physical environment, to transportation… and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, persons with disabilities would not have equal opportunities for participation in their respective societies.”[3] The committee also states that “Accessibility is a precondition for persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully and equally in society.”[4]

Gender, ethnicity, and poverty, compound existing exclusions for persons with disabilities, limiting their access to opportunities.

[1] The proportion of the world’s urban population is expected to increase to approximately 57% by 2050. African Development Bank, http://www.afdb.org/en/blogs/afdb-championing-inclusive-growth-across-africa/post/urbanization-in-africa-10143/.

[2] Approximately 90% of this increase will be concentrated in African and Asian cities like Shenzhen, Karachi, Lagos, Guangzhou, Dhaka, Jakarta, and many others that have urbanized at a rate of 40-60% between 2000-2010

[3] CRPD/C/GC/2

[4] The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination guarantees everyone the right of access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres and parks (art. 5 (f)). Thus, a precedent has been established in the international human rights legal framework for viewing the right to access as a right per se.


How to Cite
Pineda, V. S., Meyer, S. and Cruz, J. P. (2017) “The Inclusion Imperative. Forging an Inclusive New Urban Agenda”, The Journal of Public Space, 2(4), pp. 1–20. doi: 10.5204/jps.v2i4.138.
Author Biographies

Victor Santiago Pineda, University of California Berkeley

Victor Pineda is a scholar, urban planner, social entrepreneur, speaker and globally recognized human rights advocate. He is also an adjunct professor and consultant on policy, planning and development. Dr. Pineda’s work focuses on urban resilience, inclusion and sustainability. He founded the Pineda Foundation / World Enabled, a global non-profit that promotes the rights of people with disabilities. He was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on the US Access Board. Dr. Pineda holds a PhD in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Stephen Meyer, University of Washington

Stephen Meyers studies the interactions between international law and grassroots associations. He research and publications focus on the ways in which the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) has affected the form and behavior of Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in the Global South. Dr. Meyers holds a PhD in Sociology from the UCSD. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington with appointments in the Law, Societies & Justice Department and the Jackson School of International Studies and an affiliation with the Disability Studies Program.

John Paul Cruz, World Enabled

John Paul Cruz is a research associate for World Enabled and a senior analyst for the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs. He was a Fulbright visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. He holds an MA in Comparative and International Disability Policy from American University, Washington, DC.


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