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CBM UK holds event in Scottish Parliament: “Climate Change, Disability Inclusion and Wellbeing in International Development”

Posted on: Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

On 13 June, CBM UK held an event in the Scottish Parliament which included wonderful contributions from our amazing partners. Attended by Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs), Scottish Government officials and other development organisations, our event focussed on the topic of “Climate Change, Disability Inclusion and Wellbeing in International Development”.

CBM UK CEO Kirsty Smith took the event’s attendees on a global journey, sharing stories from our partners in Malawi and Zimbabwe. Action Amos, Technical Advisor for the Pan-African Network for Patients with Psychosocial Disabilities in Malawi, spoke of the impact of the recent Cyclone Freddy:  

“Here in Malawi we have had serious challenges. The most affected people within the area are those with mental disabilities as well as other neurological disorders. The families that are left after more than 400 people perished in this area is facing some trauma or post-traumatic disorder. It is important that in low-medium income countries such as Malawi, which are very poor, patients with psychosocial disabilities needs to be supported, need to be counted. And when governments are making plans, they need also to support these people.”

Hosted by Pam Gosal MSP, a CBM UK Trustee, the event also provided the opportunity to hear from Parliamentarians. Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, spoke passionately about the need for disability inclusion in all areas of international development. She emphasised the importance of  pushing forward together on the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We were grateful too for the endorsement of Pam Duncan-Glancy, MSP and Jeremy Balfour, MSP who both have lived experience of disability, and demonstrated cross-party support.

A particular highlight of the event was hearing from Johnson Fani-Matenga, Programme Manager at our partner, Regional Psychosocial Support Initiatives (REPSSI) in Zimbabwe. He addressed attendees live from Zimbabwe, and in an interview with Kirsty  described the devastating impact of the cyclones that have ripped through southern Africa in recent years. He gave insight into the work that REPSSI is doing to support those affected. Alongside the powerful video testimonies from three different partners in Malawi providing mental health support in response to climate change events, this was a powerful reminder of the urgent need for a fully inclusive response to climate change.

The event gave opportunities to hear more about CBM’s responses to the global needs around climate change and disability inclusion. Mark Barrell, CBM UK Head of Advocacy, presented our new discussion paper, “Disability Rights and Climate Change”. This paper explores the impact of the climate crisis on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Julian Eaton, CBM Global Mental Health Director, shared a video presentation about the impact of repeated climate crises on the mental health of communities, and the range of ways in which CBM is responding to these needs globally.

One attendee got in touch straight after the event and commented:

“I just wanted to say congratulations on a fantastic event… I was so impressed by all of your speakers both in person and online… Wishing you every success in scaling up the very impressive work that was presented.”

Read the CBM’s new publication, “Disability Rights and Climate Change” here.

Read more about CBM UK’s response to climate justice here.