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Amplifying voices of disability rights take centre stage at Cop28

Story by Memory Chamisa

UNITED Nations Climate Change Conference negotiators and climate activists have been implored to include people with disabilities as they deliberate on mitigating climate change.

As world leaders, negotiators, and governments continue with deliberations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the exclusion of persons with disabilities to the negotiation table dominated proceedings this Tuesday.

“It is disheartening to see how people living with disabilities are not considered. Most of the high-level meetings that were held the last couple of days, people with disabilities were not included yet when disaster strikes we are the most affected.

“It is not easy to be part of government delegations or parties as they believe we are not able to contribute to their sessions but sadly we have a lot that needs to be done especially the inclusion of people with disabilities in their NDCs policies and draft solutions.”

Director for Research and Gender Mainstreaming, Inclusivity, and Wellness in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, and Wildlife Professor Patience Mutopo underscored the need for governments to incorporate people with disabilities in their meetings.

“Inclusivity of people with disabilities should no longer be an afterthought in climate negotiations and agreements. The rights of people with disabilities, including the right to life, and health, are disproportionately at risk during climate-related disasters, yet policies and practices fail to sufficiently protect them,” said Professor Mutopo.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment Mr David Boyed says more work needs to be done to further clarify, implement, and fulfil the human rights obligations relating to people with disabilities.

“The time has come for the UN to formally recognize the human rights of people living with disabilities to a healthy environment. Legal recognition of this right would acknowledge that this right must be universally protected, and fill a glaring gap in the architecture of international human rights. As world leaders deliberate on their global stock take they must consider this population too and its needs,” he said.

As the world braces for worsening climate catastrophes, global leaders have been implored to listen and be guided by people with disabilities and those who have least contributed, yet are most impacted by the single greatest threat to humanity.

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