World Bank Partners with ONCE Foundation to Advance Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

June 7, 2016

WASHINGTON, June 7, 2016―The World Bank and ONCE Foundation are joining forces to advance the social and economic development of persons with disabilities through education, employment, skills development, training, and universal design and accessibility for all.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today, the World Bank and ONCE Foundation will focus their collaboration on joint research, capacity-building, and building on successful models.

“One billion people, or 15 percent of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries,” said Maninder Gill, Social Development Director in the World Bank’s Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice.  “Through our partnership with ONCE Foundation, we aim to support society’s capacity to include persons with disabilities.  Ensuring their inclusion and expanding equitable opportunities is at the core of the World Bank’s work to build sustainable, inclusive communities, aligned with the institution’s goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity."

Alberto Durán, ONCE Foundation Executive Vice President, said: “The partnership with the World Bank aims at ensuring full participation of persons with disabilities in our societies by removing barriers to education, employment, and social venues. Without full participation, these people remain invisible in our societies. The challenge, particularly in developing and emerging economies, is to keep accessibility and inclusion as core criteria when designing new infrastructure, and social and environmental policies. The only way for the Sustainable Development Goals to reach people with disabilities is by ensuring a disability focus on the implementation of the 2030 agenda.”

Some of the areas of collaboration outlined in the MOU include:

  • sharing knowledge, ideas, and lessons learned;
  • planning joint activities in areas of common interest;
  • teaming up on workshops, conferences, and training seminars; and
  • cooperating on joint research.

In the Latin America and Caribbean region, specifically, this work will focus on:

  • inclusive tourism;
  • smart cities, inclusive cities, accessible cities;
  • inclusion of disability-related questions in health and human services;
  • inclusive education; and
  • accessible transportation systems.

According to Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo, the World Bank’s Global Disability Advisor, “Disability is a cross-cutting issue that can impact a person at any point across their lifespan. Its intersectionality with gender, race, ethnicity, language, national or social origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other status can result in multiple forms of exclusion and discrimination. The development challenges faced by persons with disabilities should be addressed through the multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional approach with partners like ONCE Foundation, who have a proven track record of disability inclusion.”

I believe we can contribute with our ‘know-how’ acquired during the last 77 years working in this field, and hope this partnership allows us to build better societies for all,” concluded Durán.

Spain-based ONCE Foundation’s mission is to promote personal autonomy and full social inclusion of persons with disabilities, through education, training for employment, integration into the labor market, universal design and accessibility, and by strengthening organizations that advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. ONCE Foundation has integrated tens of thousands of persons with disabilities into the workforce, through companies that include Ikea, BBVA, Siemens, Ford, and Repsol.  For instance, ONCE and one of its companies, Ilunion, employs 67,000 persons – most of whom have a disability.


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Media Contacts
In Washington
Kristyn Schrader-King
Tel : +1 (202) 458-2736
In Madrid for ONCE Foundation
Lourdes Márquez
Tel : +34 91 506 89 09
In Madrid for ONCE Foundation
José María Prieto Ampudia
Tel : +34 91 436 53 31