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Missing in Climate Action: new report launched at COP27

Posted on: Friday, November 11th, 2022

CBM Global has launched a new publication sharing the experiences of people with disabilities affected by the climate crisis in Madagascar and Bangladesh, and exploring how they are involved in responding to it. Missing in Climate Action: Stories of persons with disabilities from the Global South was launched yesterday at a side-event co-hosted by CBM at COP27, the UN Climate Change conference in Egypt.

People with disabilities interviewed for the research spoke about how the climate crisis was having a huge implication on their livelihoods, health and wellbeing. Extreme weather events had pushed many further into poverty, and inaccessible early warning systems and disaster response had worsened the impact of floods and other natural disasters.

But the report also highlights that people with disabilities can play a significant role in tackling the climate crisis, and that when they do, everyone benefits.

Launching the report at our COP27 side event, Tushar Wali, CBM Global’s Senior Advisor on Disaster Risk Reduction summarised some of the findings:

“We found that people with disabilities absolutely want to engage in climate action. What stops them often is the lack of funds, resources and capacities to engage in the conversation about climate justice and adaptation work.”

“People with disabilities often form some of the most marginalized and poorest people in the communities and the lack of access to mainstream education and formal employment means that they’re quite heavily dependent on agriculture-based activities. In the climate change context that has a huge implication on the financial impact of people with disabilities and their households.”

“Climate Change also has negative health and wellbeing impact on people with disabilities and their families and this leads to further feeling of dependency, isolation in the times of displacement that are triggered by climate crisis. All of this is quite significant where we see extreme weather events pushing more and more people into the trap of poverty. Because many of these early warning systems and actions are not inclusive, it systematically means people with disabilities don’t access humanitarian aid quickly.”

The new report is based on research led by Eleonora Moen, a Master’s student from Lund University. Interviews and a small-scale survey were conducted with fourteen members of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh and Madagascar. They represented a diverse group of persons with disabilities, including two self-advocates with intellectual disabilities and a parent of a person with a disability. The interviews were carried out in the local languages with the support of sign interpretation when required.

COP27 Side Event: From Exclusion to Leadership

Missing in Climate Action: Stories of persons with disabilities from the Global South was one of several pieces of research presented at a COP27 side event on Thursday 10 November, co-organised by CBM UK with International Disability Alliance, European Disability Forum, McGill University, Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre, Sustain our Abilities and Human Rights Watch.

From Exclusion to Leadership: People with Disabilities Develop an Agenda for Inclusive Climate Action aimed to share recent evidence and recommend measures to make sure that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations are at the front and centre of a rights-based response to climate change.

Debbie Palmer, Energy, Climate and Environment Director of the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, Kristin Tilley, Australian Ambassador for Climate Change, Ian Fry, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change, and Gerard Quinn, UN Special Rapporteur on Disability Rights also spoke at the event.

Watch the recording of “From Exclusion to Leadership: People with Disabilities Develop an Agenda for Inclusive Climate Action” (YouTube). Sadly, due to technical issues at the venue, the opening section of the event was not recorded. Tushar Wali’s presentation begins at 2’08.

Read ‘Missing in Climate Action: Stories of Persons with Disabilities from the Global South’

Find out more about Disability Inclusion and the Climate Crisis

Image: Christophine, a mother of four from southern Madagascar, in her home. Severe drought in southern Madagascar has led to a hunger crisis, with families of people with disabilities among those most affected. Copyright: CBM/Viviane Rakotoarivony