Brussels’ Palais Egmont witnessed, on 4-5 December 2014, a unique conference in this period of intense preparations for the post-2015 framework for DRR: policy makers and government representatives, incl. local administrations, agencies, associations, civil protection professionals and stakeholders, focused for two days on the role of people with disabilities in disaster risk reduction.
Organised by the relevant unit at the Council of Europe (EUROPA) the conference was conceived to promote the better perception of persons with disabilities as holders of rights in the same way as all other citizens. Defending values and promoting human rights through including people with disabilities in disaster preparedness and response is at the heart of the Council of Europe’s mission.
The Conference addressed all 47 Member States seeking to engage them in the implementation of the Guidelines for Assisting People with Disabilities during Emergency, Crises and Disasters and the Recommendation on Including People with Disabilities in Disaster Preparedness and Response. The Ethical Principles on Disaster Risk Reduction and People’s Resilience, adopted in 2011, were the basis for the current work programme.
A first Workshop on “Including People with Disabilities in Disaster Preparedness and Response” took place in Paris in October 2013, and there had been subsequent preparatory meetings since. People with disabilities were associated throughout the process and in particular during the workshop, voicing their experiences and needs regarding disaster preparedness and response. The Workshop also allowed participants to exchange on the Report, Guidelines and Recommendation, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, the Council of Europe Disability Action Plan (2006-2015) and the topic in general.
The Guidelines and Recommendation are to be implemented in order to ensure that the topic is brought to the closer attention of civil protection officials and is encompassed in general by a larger audience. The overall aim is to develop a publication/toolbox for civil protection professionals at local, regional and national level in order to reduce the vulnerability of people with disabilities to natural and technological hazards. The Conference was therefore also mean to be a platform for closer exchanges on these very concrete tools devised for the use of civil protection professionals.
For more information, see: http://www.coe.int/en/web/europarisks/home