We’re midway through the UN World Conference on DRR (WCDRR). CBM colleagues in attendance include: Valerie Scherrer (CBM ERU Director), Gordon Rattray (CBM ERU Communications Coordinator), Benjamin Dard (CBM Technical Advisor for Accessibility), Luke Purcell (CBM Australia International Programs Officer) and me. Below are some summary points and key highlights thus far.
On 13 March, one day prior to the first day of WCDRR, CBM was involved in a multi-stakeholder preliminary meeting for the disability group. This was very well attended with approximately 200 participants. The session was interactive with fruitful discussions on how to move forward collectively.
On 14 March, the WCDRR opening session boasted 4000 participants along with their Majesties Emperor and Empress of Japan and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban Ki-moon’s explicitly included persons with disabilities in his opening statement. Thank you for your support! Click here to watch the captioned video to experience this powerful moment. Also, it was the first time in Japan’s history that a Deaf Certified Interpreter was used in the presence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan, providing an incredible example of inclusion.
The next day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented on 15 March at Tohoku University on “Lessons Learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake.” In his presentation, he again included persons with disabilities stating “We need a comprehensive approach that puts people first – especially the elderly, children, women, and persons with disabilities and others who are vulnerable.” Click here to read the full statement.
Persons with disabilities also had support from governments during the conference negotiations. Both H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan and H.E. Mr. M. Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President of the Republic of Indonesia explicitly included persons with disabilities in official national statements. Click here to read H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe’s statement and click here to read the statement from the Republic of Indonesia.
Also on 15 March, CBM’s Gordon Rattray presented at the UN DESA and DSPD organised event “Taking Action towards a Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) Framework (HFA2) and its Implementation.” Gordon presented on the present and future of DiDRR: DiDRR policies, programme and implementation. Gordon emphasised that the disability stakeholder group must be consistent in messaging and remain strong in efforts for successful disability-inclusive implementation. Additionally, Gordon stated that when DPOs and mainstream organisations work together on DiDRR programmes, both sides learn strong skills, a natural osmosis.
Below I’ve included some great quotes and key points from the conference:
- Sometimes I say WFDB (World Federation of Deaf Blind) is World Fabulous Diversity Bureau -Akiko Fukuda, WFDB
- DRR needs to be in the DNA of sustainable development – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
- Twice as many persons with disabilities versus persons without disabilities passed away on March 11 –Japan Disability Forum video
- Disability is the one club you don’t need an entrance fee; anyone can join at any time –Senator Kerryann Ifill, Barbados
- I lost my home; it washed away. –Presenter from City of Rikuzentakata
- If you are relying on an audio response system in an emergency and you’re Deaf, it is of no use! –Desmond Swayne, UK Minister, Department of International Development (DFID)
- If you’re not an old white man with a grey beard, you don’t have control over access to power. –Matthew Rodieck, Rehabilitation International
- I am the first signing Deaf person in the European Parliament and this shows that persons with disabilities can have strong political representation –Ádám Kósa, EU Parliamentarian (Hungary)
- We need disability data because if you can’t be counted, you won’t count –Desmond Swayne, UK Minister, DFID
- Planning is fiscally more successful when planning with rather than planning for. -Marcie Roth, FEMA (USA)
- I am Deaf Blind, but I am not Helen Keller -Akiko Fukuda, WFDB
- This is the first time I’ve seen snow (in Sendai). –Fani, Indonesian Welfare Association of the Deaf with ASB
- I am not a person with a disability; it is society that disables me. –Ádám Kósa, EU Parliamentarian (Hungary)