On 8th June 2023, on the occasion of the Bonn Climate Conference, EUD followed the webinar “Increasing crisis, decreasing budgets: the economic benefit of disability inclusive climate action” organised by the Christian Blind Mission (CBM) Global, Christian Blind Mission United Kingdom (CBMuk) and the European Disability Forum (EDF).
The event highlighted the increased impact that natural disasters caused by climate change can have on people with disabilities. On this occasion, Mr Mark Barell – CBM UK Head of Advocacy – presented the new CBM report on Disability and the Climate Crisis. The final conclusions of the CBM study points to the need to include people with disabilities in the identification of required measures and in the programme design phase, as there is still a significant gap in terms of including the disability perspective.
This point was further developed by Ms Shitaye Astewes – from the African Disability Forum (ADF) – who highlighted the lack of inclusion, and transparency in the provision of data, as well as in access to necessary funds to ensure that the voices of people with disabilities, from countries largely impacted by climate change, are heard and taken into consideration. In addition to this, Ms Astewes stressed the even higher impact that climate change can have on individuals falling within intersectional categories, such as women with disabilities. This point was echoed by Mr Vashkar Bhattacharjee – Disability Specialist from Bangladesh – which highlighted the need for awareness raising given that climate change and disability are often perceived as unrelated topics. In evidence of this, Mr Bhattacharjee also provided concrete data from Bangladesh stressing the lack of funds allocated for relevant programmes as well as the disability perspective in their national 2023 – 2050 Climate Action Strategy.
Finally, Ms Lien Vandamme – the Centre of International Environmental Law (CIEL) – and Mr Gordon Rattray – Programme Coordinator, the European Disability Forum – provided further explanation in terms of how climate justice relates to other fundamental rights such as access to information, as well as non-discrimination. In this regard, the Convention of United Nations on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) states in its article 4.3 the need to include organizations of people with disabilities in topics impacting them. Moreover, Article 11 CRPD includes the provision for State Parties to ensure the protection of people with disabilities at the occurrence of natural disasters.
EUD welcomes the important interventions of the speakers during this event. The impact of climate change is extremely evident across the world and has disproportionate effects on people with disabilities. Deaf people are also greatly affected by climate change due to the lack of accessible information in National Sign Languages or inclusive dialogues with national institutions. EUD calls national governments to promote a deaf perspective within the topic of climate change and for political action and further research on climate change and its impact on people with disabilities, including deaf people.