Vision and Mission Statement

The Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, focuses on the rights of persons with disabilities globally. It provides a platform where the most innovative and effective solutions to problems that persons with disabilities face, are shared. Its sole objective is to assist in creating a world without barriers, based on the Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Zero Project takes a solutions-based approach for its work. Together with the continuously growing network of over 4,000 disability in over 120 countries, with and without disabilities, the Zero Project seek to identify the most innovative and effective Policies and Practices that improve the lives of persons with disabilities. And the Zero Project tells the world about those Policies and Practices.

Each year the Zero Project focuses its research on a particular theme from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD), publishes the Zero Project Report based on this theme and organizes the Zero Project Conference around its results. Held at the UN in Vienna this event typically brings together over 600 delegates from more than 60 countries.

The four-year research cycle covers for key topics of the UN CRPD: employment, accessibility, independent living and political participation and education. So far, the Zero Project research focused on twice on employment in 2012/13 and 2016/17, twice on accessibility in 2013/14 and 2017/18, twice on independent living and political participation in 2014/15 and 2018/19, and once on inclusive education and ICT in 2015/16, to be revisited again in 2019/20.

The annual Zero Project Report presents the Innovative Policies and Practices that have been selected in their approach to that year’s theme, based on the three criteria innovation, impact and scalability.

Zero Project, 2018-02-21, ©Pepo Schuster, austrofocus.at

At the Zero Project Conference, those behind the Innovative Policies and Practices present their solutions to their peers involved in the world of disabilities, including stakeholders, government ministers and other key influencers. They also receive the Zero Project Award for the incredible work they have done, helping them to raise their profile, network and to inspire others. Keynote speakers and other experts discuss, in both plenary and parallel sessions, issues surrounding that year’s theme and how those Practices and Policies could be best transferred elsewhere.

www.zeroproject.org contains a wealth of more than 500 Innovative Policies and Practices that have been identified since 2013/14, and is a unique worldwide database on innovations supporting the UN CRPD. The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development of 2018 referred to those innovations 50 times.

Throughout the year, the Zero Project disseminates these solution-oriented approaches to decision makers and opinion leaders worldwide and present the results of our research at various national and international conferences, including Side Events at the Conference of State Parties of the United Nations in New York, other conferences of UN organizations, international umbrella organizations like Inclusion International or the EASPD, and others. Our various social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, keep our network of experts and a wider public informed on a day-to-day basis.

In 2017, Zero Project-Impact Transfer has been launched in partnership with Ashoka, the worldwide network of social entrepreneurs. Each year, a selection of 10 Innovative Practices are carefully selected that have the highest potential to be scaled and replicated, and get in-depth-support in developing their expansion strategy.