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People with disabilities are among the hardest hit by the climate crisis. And most often they are excluded from the decision-making processes and actions addressing climate change. CBM UK is seeking to raise awareness of disability inclusive approaches to climate action. Since November 2021, we have been an accredited observer of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process of the “Conference of the Parties” (COP), using our influence to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and seek to ensure they have a seat at the negotiating table.

Dorothy from malawi who has cataracts is standing next to a water tap.

COP28 – Dubai, UAE, December 2023

At COP28, we supported colleagues across the CBM Global Federation, including our Nepal Country Director Suraj who spoke in the Nepal country pavilion on disability inclusion. We also engaged with Karla Henson (Vice President Life Haven) and Sheila Aggarao (Life Haven + National Organisation of Visually Impaired Ladies NOVEL) from CBM Partner Life Haven Centre for Independent Living in the Philippines. Both emphasised the need for inclusive climate action and shared a video that demonstrated the impact of the climate crisis on people with disabilities in Northern Samar. Sheila was chosen as one of 100 delegates for the International Youth Climate Delegate Program to help expand youth participation in the international climate negotiation process. She is one of six youth delegates in this programme with a disability. 

We also celebrated an increasing number of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) who reached official observer status at COP28.  This gave them access to all plenary and open committee sessions and side events. While there is much more to be done, the conference closed with more references to persons with disabilities in its decisions – a small but significant step forward.  

SB58 – Bonn, Germany, June 2023

CBM UK launched a ‘Climate Change and Disability Rights’ Discussion Paper at the UNFCCC 58th Session of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB58) in Bonn, Germany. The paper focuses on the impacts of the climate crisis on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It provides practical ways forward and includes recommendations for participatory budget processes, the need for better data and improved coordination between government Ministries. 

CBM UK also hosted a side event on ‘Increasing crisis, decreasing budgets: the economic benefit of disability inclusive climate action’ introducing the paper’s main findings and recommendations. The event was chaired by Gurpreet Kaur (Climate Outreach), speakers included Mark Barrell (CBM UK), Shitaye Astawes (African Disability Forum), Gordon Rattray (European Disability Forum), Dr. Ian Fry (Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change), and Lien Vandamme (Center for International Environmental Law). 

Mafunasi, uses a pump to collect water. In the background are hills.

COP27 – Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, 2022

In November 2022, CBM UK and CBM Global brought Inclusive Climate Action conversations to COP27. With our partners, we worked to influence negotiations and join the wider civil society discussion to promote and offer practical suggestions for how climate adaptation, loss and damage and resilience can be more inclusive. 

Watch CBM’s COP27 side event with the International Disability Alliance, European Disability Forum, McGill University, Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre and Sustain our abilities 

COP26 – Glasgow, Scotland, 2021

In 2021, CBM UK was one of the few international disability and development organisations to participate as accredited observers at COP26, which included, amongst others, the European Disability Forum and International Disability Alliance. CBM UK had a stall in the Civil Society Green space at Glasgow enabling us to advocate for inclusive climate action. In the lead up to COP26, CBM UK also led the authoring of Bond’s Disability and Development Group Climate Briefing Paper. We were able to discuss the key issues and recommendations of the Briefing Paper with COP26 President Alok Sharma. 

CBM UK also hosted a side-event focussing on the impact of the climate crisis on people with disabilities and the importance of inclusive climate adaption and resilience measures that consider the mental wellbeing of those affected. The event was chaired by CBM UK Chief Executive Kirsty Smith and featured contributions from Julian Eaton, CBM Global Mental Health Director, who spoke to the topics raised in this paper: Climate change, mental health and wellbeing as well as friends from the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the World Blind Union, partners in Zimbabwe and others. 

Climate Resources

Search our Learning and Resource Library to learn more about our disability inclusive approach to climate action.

A main from Kenya using crutches, looking at a lake.