Access Israel attended UN's Habitat III convention in Quito Ecuador
Access Israel's delegation, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, played an active part in the UN Habitat III Convention, an international conference on urban development, taking place every twenty years.
This year's conference convened in Quito Ecuador on 17-20 of October, and was attended by 45,000 people from all over the world.
The Israeli delegation, led by the Minister of Building and Housing, Yoav Galant, was one of the largest ever to attend such a formal event.
People from every corner of the world, including states like North Sudan, Oman and Morocco, experienced our Accessibility Path, and the keen interest and participation were astounding.
Ms. Sharon Ashtar, a blind instructor with Access Israel, who was on the delegation to Quito and guided the visitors through a blind walk said, "Even without seeing, I could feel the pennies drop one by one, as people, who in their own countries are in charge of urban environment development and planning, realized how critical accessibility is to people like me, who are trying to lead a normal life and be included, and how difficult it would be without proper accessibility."
In addition, Israel's ambassador to Ecuador, Mr. Edwin Yabo, who honored us with his presence, and his enthusiasm and sensitivity won over everyone in the pavilion, including Latin America media, Ecuadorians and other guests from around the world, among whom an inclusive, containing and optimist dialogue had flourished. The convention's first – and exciting – day was brought to its end in a festive cocktail in the Swiss Hotel, hosted by the Ministry of Building and Housing, and attended by the entire Israeli delegation, including the Minister of Building and Housing, Yoav Galant, MK Dov Hanin, MK Tamar Zandberg and many others. Here too, Access Israel made its mark, with the ambassador's daughters and Access Israel's Sarel Oren Ohana leading the audience in the song "Makom BaLev" (a place in the heart) in sign language.
During the convention's second day, the members of the Israeli delegation attended the many panels, held simultaneously and addressing various topics, including accessibility as part of adapting urban environment to all people. Contrary to our expectations and those of many organizations and people in the convention, accessibility for people with disabilities was not a key issue in the urban environment concept on those panels, even though accessibility is an integral part of the development of urban environment.
Access Israel's representatives had several important meetings. We met with Ms. Daniela Bass, director of UN's policy and social planning department, Dr. Michael Pemback of Australia's Zero Project, James Thornton, VP of G2ICT, as well as directors of local organizations promoting the rights of people with disabilities.
We also wish to extend our thanks to the Ministry of Building and Housing and all the members of the Israeli delegation to Habitat III, to Moti and the Eyal Tzipuyim team, to Me-HaLev Company and the Access Israel team on the delegation.