Global attention to including people with intellectual disabilities in climate action

Our President, Sue Swenson, called for inclusive climate policies at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Why we were there

COP26, hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, was a historic Climate Change Conference for persons with disabilities.

For the first time in the history of COP, there was a side event on disability rights and inclusion within climate action.

This event was called Disability-Inclusive Climate Action: Rights and Options and was hosted by McGill University’s Disability-Inclusive Climate Action Research ProgramHuman Rights Watch, the League of Women Voters, the International Disability Alliance, and Inclusion Scotland.

Our President, Sue Swenson, provided closing remarks at this event.

What we said

Sue shared IDA and IDDC Consortium statements calling for Member States and actors attending the conference to make sure that the rights of persons with disabilities are respected in the design of climate policies.

She closed by calling for immediate action to remove environmental, attitudinal, communication and other barriers.

I challenge you now to open your mind to listen to the voices of people who have disabilities. People who were previously discredited as not having anything important to say in this space. We do. We care. There’s a lot of us. You have to bring us to the table.

You can watch Sue’s statement at 1hr 12mins into the video above.

What next

We believe – for the first time – people with disabilities had a strong presence at this climate conference, and the message of the disability movement was loud and clear.

Despite this, the final outcome document of the conference included only one reference to persons with disabilities in it.

Climate action is now on the list of top priorities for many organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society working on disability inclusion.

This paper on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in climate action launched by the International Disability Alliance and the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network is a good example of this.