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Debra Ruh

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Climate Change, and Disability Inclusion5 min read

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), Climate Change, and Disability Inclusion
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How Corporations can show leadership and help during these changing times!!!

I am proud to write and speak about the inclusion needs of my community, persons with disabilities, in all aspects of society.  Climate Action and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are also part of my passion along with Tech4All, Tech4Good, and Digital Inclusion to help reduce the Digital Divide.  It is critical to tie these issues together and come up with global, national, and local solutions to take care of our planet, humans, and all inhabitants of the earth.

The community of persons with disabilities is my community.  I am an individual diagnosed with ADHD, and someone that sometimes struggles to manage my anxiety and depression, especially during these intense times.  Additionally, I have family members that have disabilities.  My daughter was born with Down syndrome and my husband has aged into a disability.  He was diagnosed a few years ago with Early Onset Dementia after being hit by a car as a child and acquiring a major traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Other family members have disabilities including a talented nephew with Autism and my great grandmother who had epilepsy and died when she had a seizure and fell into the fireplace.

Ed, Debra, Kevin and Sara Ruh posing for a photo.
The Ruh Family

It is important to note that as we age many of us will acquire disabilities along our life path.  There are 70+ million Americans  over the age of 56 called Baby Boomers.  Many other baby boomers will join my husband and age into disability.  According to the AARP, over the age of 65,  46% of Americans have disabilities that impact their daily lives.  Sadly, when older persons acquire disabilities they do not have access to the same support services and systems as younger people that are born with or acquire disabilities.  Leading to major family impacts, financial constraints, disruptions, loneliness, and increasingly high suicide rates.  “Boomer Generation; from about 14 percent in the year 2000 to about 19 percent in 2013. Baby boomers rose to 37.5% of all suicides in 2010. That is now the highest suicide rate of any existing age bracket.” [1]

The community of persons with disabilities and people aging into disabilities are negatively impacted when a website, phone app, training course, service, product, and other technology is not accessible.  Same goes for the built environment – if we build homes, restaurants, shopping centers, offices, government buildings, and other buildings that are not accessible – society loses.  Often, persons with disabilities are not meaningfully included in education and the workforce.  Add climate change to these factors and we have the perfect storm.  Disenfranchised people are more susceptible to climate change problems.

Society must address these issues and one way is to forward to the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 global goals are essential to move humanity forward. 

All the sustainable development goals and their icons.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Here are the ‘17’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal [1]

Climate Action is addressed in many of the SDG goals including Goal #13 Climate Action.  Also, inclusion of persons with disabilities and other disenfranchised communities are heavily impacted by the goals.   Inclusion of persons with disabilities with the 17 SDGs are addressed in 11 of the goals.  So, how can we not talk about SDGs when exploring how we treat humans with disabilities and climate action?  All of these items are integral to the way forward for all the inhabitants of the earth.  

At Ruh Global IMPACT we work with multi-national, corporate brands that are trying to have a bigger more positive impact on our planet, people, and other inhabitants of the world.  In the past, we have turned to government to solve societal problems. Today, corporate brands must play a much larger role in creating greater change in society. 

There are also growing expectations that brands have diverse workforces that include persons with disabilities. The workforce is changing and so are employee values, thus, keeping employees satisfied has never been more important. Workers expect their employers to align business goals with positive social impact as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which should align with an impact agenda dedicated to the mission of the brand. The Nielsen June 2014 report “Doing Well by Doing Good”[2] showed that 67% of millennials want to work for a socially responsible brand.

Societal expectations for businesses to support the communities where they do business are on the rise and inclusion of disenfranchised members of the societies is part of those expectations. We have seen those expectations in our religious and spiritual communities as illustrated in the Dali Lama’s observation, “Technology that is available to us today should be utilized across the globe. But ultimately the solution lies within compassion. If we have compassion for the planet and compassion for everybody that inhabits it, we will do the right thing.” Now we are seeing those expectations reach the marketplace, which opens up new opportunities for you to appeal to and attract an expanded customer base.

It will take every single one of us to change the world and support Climate Action, Inclusion, and the advancement of the world.  Hoping you will join me. 


[1] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html

[2] http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/jp/docs/report/2014/Nielsen Global Corporate Social Responsibility Report – June 2014.pdf


[1] https://www.newgeography.com/content/005153-suicide-the-new-curse-boomers

Debra Ruh

Debra Ruh

Chief Executive Officer

Debra Ruh is the CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT.  The UN President’s office invited Debra to address the United Nations General Assembly at the Conference of State Parties 9th session on May 13, 2016.  Selected as the North American representative for UN ILO Global Business and Disability Network (GBDN). US State Department global speaker and ambassador since 2018. Nominated as Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2018.  Author of three books, Inclusion Branding (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, and Voice via Audible), Tapping into Hidden Human Capital, and Finding Your Voice using Social Media.  Learn more at www.RuhGlobal.com or https://tiny.cc/DebraRuh

She is a global influencer, with over 300,000 followers on social media. Co-founder of award winning #AXSChat one of largest tweet chats in the world with over 8 billion tweets. Named in the “Top 5% of Social Media Influencers” and “Top 0.1% of people talking about Disability Inclusion and Accessibility” by KLOUT, #15 in Digital Scouts, and Top 100 Global Digital Influencers in Sept 2018.  Debra has been featured on CBS, ABC, NBC, Washington Post, INC, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, and more.

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