High-Level Panel on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction



High level panel on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy -

Ensuring that the United Nations system is fit for purpose

Ms Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction

Geneva, 3 December 2019, 15:00-16:30


Fellow panellists,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to share some thoughts with you today on disability inclusion which is so relevant to our overall efforts to reduce disaster risk and, most importantly, to reduce the numbers of people dying in disasters. Disasters affect all of us. None of us are immune, but disasters undermine the lives and livelihoods of those who are vulnerable severely, and we know from many tragedies that without careful planning and foresight, disability can be a determinant factor between life and death in a disaster situation.

Disaster mortality is closely correlated with income and the quality of risk governance. Since 2000, almost 90% of (1.2 million) deaths recorded in major reported disasters have occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

In the absence of reliable disaggregated data, it is a matter of speculation how many of those deaths were of people living with some form of disability, particularly those with reduced mobility. But even in Japan, one of the most developed countries in the world, during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, there is data that indicates that the percentage of people living with disability who perished could have been double of that of people without disability.

What is true is that people with disabilities are often socially or logistically isolated, often lacking access to evacuation warnings and appropriate transportation for both them, those who care for people with disabilities and any medical equipment necessary for their well-being.

This is why, early on in 2013, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction focused on the issues persons who live with disabilities are facing, as an estimated 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.

At that time, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction carried out the first and only global online survey of persons living with disabilities on how they cope with disasters.

Survey responses from 5,717 persons from 137 countries revealed that persons living with disabilities are rarely consulted about their needs in potential disaster situations.

One significant finding in the survey was that 85% of the respondents stated that they had not participated in community disaster management and risk reduction processes in their communities.  They were rarely consulted about their needs and only 20% of respondents said they would be capable of evacuating immediately in the event of a sudden disaster event.

It is largely the disadvantaged and marginalised in our societies who pay the greatest price in terms of loss of life and livelihoods, and in terms of life-long injuries sustained during disasters.

Therefore, I would like to use the occasion of this High-Level panel on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities to make an urgent appeal for people with disabilities, their families, and their support groups to be consulted and fully engaged in the development and implementation of national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction.

This is the foundation of disaster risk reduction policies in all member states and is one of the seven Global Targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

A key guiding principle of the Sendai Framework is that disaster risk reduction requires an inclusive approach to risk-informed decision-making based on disaggregated data including by sex, age and disability.

The Sendai Framework Monitor is a key tool for measuring the success of UN member States efforts in putting inclusion and persons with disabilities at the centre of their efforts to reduce disaster risk.

UNDRR is committed to implement the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy. We have established a Guidance of Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in our work and have nominated a Focal Point to move forward on the overall UN commitment.

Over 200 persons with disabilities participated in Global Platform, held in Geneva in May of this year. It is always a priority for UNDRR when we organize such events, from choice of venue to the design of the programme, so that persons living with disability can continue to participate on large numbers.

UNDRR fully subscribes to the mantra of persons living with disabilities “Nothing about us without us.” 

It is evident that if we ignore your needs, we also ignore your solutions, your experience and your leadership. All of which can benefit many other groups at risk in disaster situations, so that nobody is left behind when disaster strikes.

Thank you.

Explore further

Hazards Tsunami
Themes Inclusion
Country and region Switzerland
Share this

Is this page useful?

Yes No
Report an issue on this page

Thank you. If you have 2 minutes, we would benefit from additional feedback (link opens in a new window).