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COP27: the climate challenges of people with disabilities
09 Nov 2022

The climate summit in Egypt is an opportunity for people with disabilities to actively participate in climate ambition processes as well as in decision-making on policies and programs, as it directly affects them


Last Sunday the 27th Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) began, an international meeting point where progress can be made in adopting measures to deal with the climate emergency. Among the most relevant issues for this year, the urgent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the strengthening of resilience and adaptation to the inevitable consequences of climate change, or the fulfillment of commitments to finance climate action in developing countries.

It is, without a doubt, a determining event for the future of our planet, as well as a great opportunity to redefine climate justice for people with disabilities. When it comes to climate change, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by its effects, as the current emergency affects the most vulnerable with particular intensity. Sudden natural disasters, such as torrential rains or droughts, and slow-developing phenomena, such as aridity or desertification, can seriously affect the access of persons with disabilities to food and nutrition, drinking water and sanitation, or even to health care services and drugs. For that reason, your voice must be taken into account in climate action initiatives. According to the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), people with disabilities have been practically absent from climate debates and there are few publications on the effects of climate change on their rights. If we do not want to leave anyone behind, the action must take into account their needs.

For this reason, COP27 can -and must- become a meeting for change, where it is possible to decide, design and implement inclusive climate adaptation programs that integrate the vision of people with disabilities. To do this, in addition to hearing their voices, equitable access to up-to-date information platforms and learning materials is needed to enhance their knowledge and participation in climate change mainstreaming conversations at all levels. In this sense, it should be remembered that climate policies and plans are still not available in systems such as braille or access to them is centralized on non-adapted web platforms, which is a barrier to full and effective participation in climate action.

Among the instruments that complement this international law are the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to Integrate Humanitarian Action for Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Strategy for Disability Inclusion. What role will they play in this COP? We will see it in the development of the summit, but we trust that it will be decisive and contribute to promoting the action and climate ambition of people with disabilities.