The impacts of climate change on the rights of persons with disabilities

Climate change has been demonstrated to have both a direct and indirect impact on the effective enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are often among those most adversely affected in an emergency, sustaining disproportionately higher rates of morbidity and mortality, and at the same time being among those least able to have access to emergency support. The adverse impacts of climate change on individuals with multiple vulnerability factors, including women and girls with disabilities, require adequate measures to address their specific needs and to ensure their participation in disaster response planning for emergency situations and evacuations, humanitarian emergency response and health-care services. Sudden-onset natural disasters and slow-onset events can seriously affect the access of persons with disabilities to food and nutrition, safe drinking water and sanitation, health-care services and medicines, education and training, adequate housing and access to decent work. The meaningful participation, inclusion and leadership of persons with disabilities and their organizations within disaster risk management and climate-related decision-making at the local, national, regional and global levels, lies at the heart of an approach to climate action that is respectful of the rights of persons with disabilities.

Human Rights Council resolution 42/21 (A/HRC/RES/42/21) requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare “an analytical study on the promotion and the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities in the context of climate change…” and a panel discussion at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council on the same.

To inform the study and panel discussion, OHCHR transmitted a Note Verbale [English] [French] and Questionnaire [English] [French] to Member States requesting their inputs. Other relevant stakeholders including NGOs, UN Agencies, IGOs, Academic Institutions and NHRIS were invited to respond to the questionnaire and provide inputs. The deadline for submitting inputs is 31 December 2019. The inputs received will be made available on this website.