Goto main content

COP 28: Raising awareness of disability at the Climate Conference


COP 28 opens in Dubai on November 30. Humanity & Inclusion will be bringing strong messages in support of the communities and individuals most impacted by climate change, including people with disabilities.

After typoon Rai hit the central areas of the Philippines, HI sent two emergency teams to two of the hardest hit regions: Bohol and Surigao. Here, HI Country Manager, Melanie Ruiz, is pictured amongst destruction in Surigao city, where she is leading one of HI's evaluation teams.

After typoon Rai hit the central areas of the Philippines, HI sent two emergency teams to two of the hardest hit regions: Bohol and Surigao. Here, HI Country Manager, Melanie Ruiz, is pictured amongst destruction in Surigao city, where she is leading one of HI's evaluation teams. | © K. Tolentino / HI

The climate emergency is impacting the most vulnerable populations

COP 28 is taking place against the backdrop of an absolute climate emergency. Global temperatures and CO2 emissions are reaching unprecedented levels with particularly devastating effects in the most vulnerable countries, those who have contributed least to the problem: floods in Bangladesh, typhoons in the Philippines, and cyclones in Madagascar. The populations supported by HI are being hit hard and often.

HI calls for inclusive climate action

Climate change exacerbates humanitarian needs, deepens inequalities and threatens decades of progress in peace and development. Its multiple impacts threaten many human rights, including the right to life, health and livelihoods.

These rights are particularly at risk for persons with disabilities, who already struggle to exercise them in many contexts due to the social exclusion and discrimination they regularly face. Climate change exacerbates these pre-existing vulnerabilities, particularly in countries where the capacity to adapt to risks is low and disability is still highly stigmatized. The impacts are even more severe for people who experience multiple forms of marginalization and exclusion, not only based on disability but also based on gender and age.

Even though people with disabilities make up more than 15% of the world's population, the links between climate change and disability are still poorly understood and under-represented in decision-making. COP 28 is an opportunity to highlight these issues so that climate action leaves no one behind. HI is pleased that social inclusion is one of the 4 cross-cutting themes of this year's conference and urges Member States to take urgent, fair and inclusive action, especially in the fight against climate change :

  • Promote the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities, in all their diversity, and their representative organizations, in climate governance. This should be done at different levels, including in relevant policies, commitments and processes related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement;
  • Include concrete measures to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities and respect for their rights in national climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and plans;
  • Adopt a human rights-based approach that ensures the protection and security of persons with disabilities in the face of climate change, in line with obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);
  • Ensure inclusive, equitable and decentralized access to climate finance, in particular loss and damage finance, for developing countries, including in fragile contexts. Include direct access arrangements for local actors and organizations representing marginalized and vulnerable groups, and increase investment in early action based on projections to prevent future loss and damage;
  • Integrate the principles of inclusion, accessibility and universal design into the Just Transition work program to remove barriers and obstacles faced by persons with disabilities in accessing services and economic opportunities and to reduce structural inequalities;
  • Promote and support the generation of knowledge and data on the interactions between climate and disability to inform policy and practice.

HI's climate action

For over 20 years, HI has been carrying out disaster risk reduction projects in many countries vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on the groups most at risk, including people with disabilities. Our projects include:

  • working directly with communities to build their capacity to reduce risk, prepare for extreme weather events, anticipate their impact and adapt to them over the long term;
  • providing technical support to decision-makers and stakeholders involved in disaster risk management and climate change adaptation at various levels to ensure that their policies and practices are more inclusive of groups and individuals at risk;
  • giving a voice to the most vulnerable communities and groups on the front line of the climate emergency in various consultation forums and decision-making processes relating to climate action.

In addition, HI's teams are integrating climate issues and risks into numerous sectors of intervention, such as economic inclusion and health.

Finally, HI has adopted a Corporate Environmental Policy to reduce the ecological footprint of its actions and to contribute to global efforts to reduce emissions.

What is the COP?

The COPs are annual meetings organized since 1995, bringing together the international community to assess the progress made in the fight against global warming and to make new commitments by consensus. In addition to government delegations, the COPs also bring together a wide range of other players from civil society, the private sector, the world of research, the media, etc., to advance the discussions and report on the key facts. Notable COPs include COP 21 in 2015, where the Paris Agreement was adopted, aiming to keep global warming to 1.5 - 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

For COP28, three main issues will drive this edition of the World Climate Summit:

- Eight years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, COP 28 will provide an opportunity to carry out a First Global Stocktake to take stock of its implementation, assess the collective progress made, identify gaps and opportunities for achieving its long-term objectives;
- States must also continue negotiations on phasing out fossil fuels while ensuring a just, inclusive, equitable and opportunity-creating transition (Work Programme on Just Transition);
- Finally, a historic decision was taken at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2022, with the creation of a "loss and damage" fund to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries to cope with the irreversible damage caused by climate change. COP 28 should provide an opportunity to pursue efforts to make the fund operational in practice so that it does not remain a dead letter.

Date published: 11/27/23


Where we work

Get the latest news about Humanity & Inclusion's work delivered straight to your inbox.