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.

We take a solutions-based approach to our work. Together with our continuously growing network of over 4,000 disability experts in over 170 countries, we seek to identify the most innovative and effective Policies & Practices that improve the lives of persons with disabilities. And we tell the world about those Policies & Practices.

Each year we focus our research on a particular theme from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD). We publish a report based on this theme and organize a conference around its results. Held at the UN in Vienna this event typically brings together over 400 delegates from more than 50 countries.

The annual Zero Project Report presents the Policies & Practices that have been selected as the most innovative in their approach to that year’s theme. It also evaluates just how the UN CRPD is being implemented around the world. For this we created Social Indicators.

Zero Project, 2018-02-21, ©Pepo Schuster,

At our conference, those behind the innovative Policies & Practices present their solutions to their peers involved in the world of disabilities, including stakeholders, government ministers and other key influencers. They also receive an 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 sessions and workshops, issues surrounding that year’s theme and how those Practices & Policies could be best transferred elsewhere.

On our interactive website one can find more than 150 innovative Policies & Practices that we have identified on the three topics addressed so far, and the research of Social Indicators that help decipher the current global situation.

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, on independent living and political participation in 2014/15 and on inclusive education and ICT in 2015/16, concluding the four-year research cycle. In 2018/19 the topic of independent living and political participation will be taken up for the second time at our next Zero Project Conference in February 2019.

Throughout the year, we also disseminate 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, at a Side Event at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and at a Side Event at the Conference of State Parties to UN CRPD in New York.

With our conference, report and awards, the Zero Project disseminates and promotes replicable and innovative solutions that have overcome the problems people with disabilities face, by raising public awareness of the issues and stimulating reform, thereby acting as a catalyst for a world without barriers. 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.