Zero Project Conference 2024 – UN-Vienna: Innovative Solutions for a Better Tomorrow


by A.Sharief / Hedi Bousnina / Jakob Staubmann

The Zero Project Conference 2024, held at the United Nations in Vienna for the 11th year, focuses on innovative solutions and inclusive education for people with disabilities. This conference is a result of the partnership between the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the Essl Foundation, all working towards building a better world for individuals with disabilities.

The importance of this partnership cannot be overstated, especially in light of the upcoming Summit of the Future in September 2024. This summit presents a unique opportunity to address critical challenges, bridge gaps in global governance, and reaffirm commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Charter. It aims to create a reinvigorated multilateral system that positively impacts the lives of everyone, including persons with disabilities.

The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, is driven by its mission to advance the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It seeks out and shares innovative solutions that improve the daily lives and legal rights of individuals with disabilities. Since its inception in 2008, the Zero Project has identified and collected over 900 proven-concept solutions from more than 120 countries. These solutions, spanning various sectors, have successfully removed barriers for persons with disabilities and can be replicated in other regions or countries.

“The Zero Project has developed into a powerful force for change for the rights and lives of persons with disabilities worldwide,” said Ghada Waly, the Director-General of UNOV and Executive Director of UNODC. She further emphasized the global impact of the Zero Project, connecting experts, professionals, and volunteers from over 100 countries, to work together for a world where all persons with disabilities can thrive and live with dignity.

The Zero Project’s commitment to disseminating global good practices within the United Nations system is evident in its contributions to publications like the forthcoming UN Disability and Development Report of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Moreover, the research cycle of the Zero Project aligns directly with the respective SDGs on education, employment, accessibility, information and communications technology (ICT), and independent living and political participation.

Martin Essl, the Founder and Initiator of the Essl Foundation, emphasized the importance of the Summit of the Future in transforming education for individuals with and without disabilities. The Zero Project supports this vision by facilitating the replication of innovative solutions through global collaboration. The Zero Project Conference on Inclusive Education and ICT brings together innovators and multipliers from 100 countries, allowing ideas to be put into practice and contributing to a better tomorrow.

The Zero Project Conference 2024 at the United Nations in Vienna serves as a platform for showcasing and promoting innovative solutions and inclusive education for people with disabilities. Through its partnerships and initiatives, the Zero Project is actively working towards creating a world where every individual, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and live a life of dignity. As we look ahead to the Summit of the Future, the importance of cooperation, collaboration, and the sharing of innovative solutions becomes even more critical in building a better tomorrow.

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