The International Student Competition and International Academic Conference on Innovation for Green and Accessible Environment, co-organized by UNESCO Beijing Office and Wuhan University of Technology, was officially launched on 17 June 2022 in Wuhan.
Professor Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office and UNESCO representative to China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, and Republic of Korea, attended the ceremony and delivered opening remarks. Around 300 participants representing the local government, academia, and other key stakeholders attended the launch ceremony and expressed their support for the event.
Figure 1. Prof. Khan delivering opening remarks at the launch ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Khan recognized the progress made in recent years regarding the construction of an accessible environment in China, especially policy and legislation support from the Government. At the same time, he highlighted the importance of inclusion and involvement of youth in the process, particularly youth with disabilities, as “youth have the creativity, the potential and capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their communities, and for the rest of the world”. In this regard, Prof. Khan reaffirmed UNESCO’s commitment in cooperating with Chinese partners to further a sustainable accessibility development and providing a platform for youth engagement in the process.
Figure 2. Representatives of organizers and supporters of the event announcing the opening of the Competition.
Under the theme “Green with Love, Smart without Obstacles”, the International Student Competition and International Academic Conference on Innovation for Green and Accessible Environment invites university students around the world to participate and share their ideas on making cities more accessible and sustainable through innovative approaches at the theoretical and practical level.
As part of the Competition, a series of open lectures will be held featuring experts and professionals sharing knowledge and expertise on relevant topics throughout the Competition process, aiming to provoke thoughts for actions of participants. Kicking off the lecture series, Mr. Lv Shiming, Vice Chairperson of China Disabled Persons' Federation and President of the China Association of Volunteers for Persons with Disabilities, shared his insights on the past, present, and future of the construction of an accessible environment in China. Mr. Lv Shiming stressed the importance of a legal foundation for future development and encouraged youth participation throughout the process.
The International Student Competition will be open for application in July 2022. Participants will be invited to prepare and submit their work in the format of a design project or research thesis by the end of October 2022. Winners will be selected and awarded at the International Academic Conference and Award-winning Ceremony in December 2022.
As a UN agency with a specific mandate in promoting information accessibility for persons with disabilities, UNESCO is actively involved in promoting disability rights and implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) through the promotion of inclusive education, accessible culture and sciences, communication and information, as well as the creation of inclusive cities, through guidelines and standards development, capacity building, policy recommendations, and advocacy and campaigns, for better inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.
UNESCO leads the United Nations Theme Group on Disability (UNTGD) in China, which promotes dialogue and coordination with disability stakeholders in China to support the country’s fulfillment of international and national commitments to the equal rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities. Wuhan University of Technology is a valuable member of the UNTGD. The International Student Competition and International Academic Conference on Innovation for Green and Accessible Environment will serve as a pilot project under the Coalition of Disability Inclusive Cities proposed by the UNTGD.