European DPOs in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

EDF Board Meeting – Tuesday, 2nd March 2021

On 2 March 2021, as part of its annual Board meetings, the European Disability Forum (EDF) hosted a moderated online meeting to discuss progress in international cooperation. One of the topics discussed was the engagement of European DPOs in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The meeting was centered around presentations from two key speakers, Sebastian Penzini of UNDRR Europe Office and Elham Youssefian from International Disability Alliance (IDA) and representing the Thematic Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action.

Sendai and disability

Mr. Penzini opened the discussion, explaining the role of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in reducing the impact of natural events. He highlighted that Sendai is highly inclusive, based around the fact that persons with disabilities are often exposed to greater risk and possess unique skills and knowledge, so must be considered as key actors and placed at the center of the decision-making process.

Achievements towards inclusiveness so far

• National DRR strategy assessments include a review of inclusiveness
• Implementation of Disaster Loss National Databases include disaggregation of data for persons with disabilities impacted by disasters
• Engagement with the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy
• UNITAR UNDRR Making Cities Resilient online course has accessibility features
• disability stakeholder group is a member of the UNDRR Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism

Key priorities for UNDRR

• Inclusion of organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in National Platforms for DRR
• Science policy interface (where scientists and decision-makers can jointly construct knowledge through exchange and co-evolution) includes specific measures to reduce risks persons with disabilities are exposed to
• Specific efforts at the local level and in urban areas
• Inclusion of risk-exposed groups in methodologies for risk assessments

The Upcoming European Forum on DRR

Mr. Penzini concluded by outlining the plans for the 2021 European Forum for DRR (EFDRR) in relation to disability inclusion. These are:
• Accessible conference
• Meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, including organisation of sessions, side events, and learning labs
• Consultation of organisations of persons with disabilities during the development of EFDRR roadmap 2022-2030

The DPO perspective – why engage?

The floor was then taken by Elham Youssefian, who focused on why persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, also in Europe, must be involved in DRR. Some of the reasons identified were:
● Climate change is real and it impacts everyone, but it can impact persons with disabilities more than others
● National preparedness mechanisms are not effective for persons with disabilities (COVID-19 is a recent example, where persons with disabilities are facing constant discrimination)
● Plans are not in place – every DPO must have DRR as part of their strategy, but they must also work together in order to be effective

Ms. Youssefian also described the global disability/DRR coordination work being done by the Thematic Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Action, reiterating that DPOs should be participating in all relevant DRR processes and platforms. The next opportunity in Europe is the regional forum in November 2021, and this will be followed in 2022 by the Global Platform in Bali, Indonesia. She concluded by repeating that all DPOs must have a DRR plan for three main reasons:
• Natural events often disproportionately affect persons with disabilities
• DRR is easily incorporated as part of everyday disability rights work anyway
• Because of the inclusiveness of the Sendai framework, the door to participation is already open

Article prepared by Jenny Espinal, intern at EDF.

Gordon Rattray, EDF’s international cooperation officer (