Climate Change

Climate change affects the world’s poorest and most ‘at-risk’ people. While data on the impacts of climate change upon people with disabilities is not available, estimates have suggested 20% among those most at-risk to climate change are people with disabilities.

People with disabilities are living with significant climate-related issues such as increasing storms, floods and landslides; coastal inundation; droughts; wildfires; degradation of land, resources, infrastructure and living environments; extremes of temperature; and growing climatic unpredictability and uncertainty. Climate change can also indirectly impact on people’s health, such as poor water and air quality, can cause health-related illnesses including: respiratory diseases, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, poisoning, water borne diseases. These climate-related health impacts can lead to long-term impairments and disabilities.

People with disabilities experience multidimensional inequalities and are over-represented amongst the poorest, which heightens their exposure to climate change. A climate-driven hazard may present compounding risks for people with disabilities as they experience the same challenging event as everyone else, as well as the additional challenges of inaccessible and exclusive environments.

People with disabilities living in rural areas with a higher reliance on agriculture face heightened climate risks which are closely interlinked with food insecurity:

  • Existing barriers to accessing food, nutrition, and equitable participation in the food production exacerbates food shortages and household incomes, which further perpetuates the linkage between poverty and disability
  • The loss of food production increases the cases of malnutrition, and stunted growth, especially among children under 5 years old
  • Many community members have been forced to move to ‘low-income settlements’ because their land is no longer productive. But people with disabilities are often left behind by family members during climate-induced displacement. This means they can be left behind in places where there is little clean drinking water.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, signatory governments need to develop climate adaptation plans alongside people with disabilities and their representative organisations (e.g., OPDs). However, people with disabilities have been largely excluded from decision-making processes and outcomes within States’ national climate change policies and plans, as well as under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Water For Women (2021) Making the Critical Connections between Climate Resilience and Inclusive WASH:Lessons from Water for Women

The report features 12 case studies from Water for Women partners working on projects in the Asia-Pacific that are helping to build climate resilience through inclusive and sustainable WASH programs and research. It also outlines recommendations from the partners for strengthening climate resilience for inclusive WASH at different levels, recognising that achievement of climate-resilient, inclusive WASH depends on gender, disability and socially transformative practice in the WASH sector.

UNHCR, iDMC & IDA (2021) Disability, Displacement and Climate Change

80 per cent of persons with disabilities live in low and middle-income countries, many of which are highly climate vulnerable. For example, 54.3% and 27% of the adult populations of Afghanistan and Syria respectively have a disability. Climate change may lead to a higher risk of forced displacement through an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as cyclones and drought, as well as environmental degradation that impacts livelihoods and survival. People with disabilities face heightened protection risks and barriers to inclusion and are likely to have specific, additional needs related to forced displacement in the context of disasters and climate change. This paper identifies four key points to improve disability-inclusive approaches to disaster displacement: 1. Participation is key. 2. Better data is needed on the prevalence, location, needs and resources of displaced persons. 3. Accessibiity is a precondition for the inclusion of people with disabi

Inclusive Futures (2021) Evidence Digest on Climate Change: Issue paper and Guide to promoting disability-inclusive climate change

This evidence digest includes a guest blog on prioritising disability inclusion in climate action, and the latest evidence and guidance on disability inclusion, as of 2021. This includes programme learning, the impacts of COVID-19, and finance for disability inclusion.

Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network (2021) Promoting Disability-Inclusive Climate Change Action

Persons with disabilities remain largely excluded from decision-making processes and plans to address and prevent climate change and the responses to climate-related disasters and emergencies at sub-national, national, regional, and international levels. The inclusion of persons with disabilities is pivotal to ensuring that efforts to implement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and outcomes of the Paris Agreement are inclusive. Conversely, persons and organizations of persons with disabilities must advocate for a holistic approach to disability inclusion. This report shares the findings and recommendations from surveying the Global Action on Disability (GLAD)'s Network, guided by the disability-inclusive climate action working group, on the intersection of climate change and disability inclusion.

Plan International Indonesia & ISF-UTS (2020) Climate Change Response for Inclusive WASH: A guidance note for Plan International Indonesia

This guidance note outlines easy-to-implement community-based activities to get local stakeholders thinking about how people are affected differently by climate impacts on WASH and how gender and social inclusion in WASH builds climate resilience. The research project draws from a range of climate change adaptation, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and gender and social inclusion concepts and on recent research approaches for assessing climate change. This Guidance Note provides activities and recommendations to Plan International Indonesia for integrating considerations of climate change into its existing inclusive WASH programming, which focuses on STBM (Community-led Total Sanitation).

Mary Keogh and Maria Paula Acuna Gonzalez (2020) Climate Change: This Century’s Defining Issue: a working paper by CBM Global.

This report highlights a lack of inclusion, representation and investment in people with disabilities in relation to climate change. It also cites positive examples of progress, for example how organisations representing persons with disabilities in the Pacific and Latin America are engaging in climate change. Recommendations in the report set out key actions to ensure that people with disabilities and their representative organisations are not left behind in the global, national and local movements advancing climate justice.

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Picture of a women watering her plot in the community garden in Chivi

Photo:

Evelyn, 73, waters her plot in the community garden in Chivi, Zimbabwe, set up by CBM and partners following the food crisis in Zimbabwe in 2019. Copyright: CBM/Hayduk