Embracing leadership of persons with disabilities

Disability-inclusive DRR Network (DiDRRN), including CBM, at the culmination of AMCDRR 2016.

The team from Disability-inclusive DRR Network (DiDRRN), including CBM, at the culmination of AMCDRR 2016.

As the globe observed World Tsunami Awareness Day on 5th November to highlight a collective future and the need for acting together on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2016 (AMCDRR 2016) ended with a strong message and commitment to leave no one behind through an ‘all of society approach’.

The record-breaking air pollution in New Delhi which is the venue for the conference and smog persisted with many people seen wearing a mask. But the air within the imposing plenary hall of Vigyan Bhawan  was brimming with expectation, which gave way to optimism for the stakeholder groups who saw their hard work paying off with the drafting committee including framework and implementation level suggestions.

All of society approach   

The three-day conference that was preceded by pre-events, saw an open and consultative deliberations which impacted the commitments in the outcome documents:  Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016 New Delhi Declaration – 2016 and Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

Recognising the need to bring all stakeholders together the AMCDRR process involved various stakeholder groups for developing action statements that have been appended with the Asia Regional Plan 2015-2030.

Over 4,000 participants from 41 countries took part in the conference in sessions that were open to all participants, allowing cross-sectoral discussions which found its way into different stakeholder action statements.

The summary sessions and speakers echoed the statement made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to embrace all of society.

Championing disability inclusion

The Disability Stakeholder Group had some anxious moments as the coalition of organisation recalled how the lack of specific mention to leadership and inclusion of persons with disabilities might lead to a setback in bringing inclusion to the centre stage.

The second day of the conference saw a technical session organised by the stakeholder group. As the session progressed, the room started filling up. The small but inspired contingent of disability organisations found renewed energy as the proceeding drew ministerial representatives and national institutions.

The ministerial representatives from Bangladesh emerged as the champions along with civil society participants from the country, when they pushed for the key priorities and commitments to be echoed in the New Delhi Declaration and the Asian Regional Plan 2015-2030. The tenacious wording and an assimilative approach by the drafting committee found its way into the outcome documents.

The SFDRR Asian Regional Plan 2015-2030 text mentions disability at six places in specific, apart from figuring in the New Delhi Declaration.

But the following mention in the text is particularly important:

“Adopting an inclusive approach – via multi-sector/stakeholder DRR platforms, both at national and local levels – is particularly important. It should embrace the leadership of persons with disability, women, children and youth and the significant contribution of the business sector.”