Disaster Risk Reduction and Inclusive Practices

The Sendai Framework is one of the most inclusive UN conferences. Adopted at the 3rd global UN Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, the Sendai Framework outlines four priorities, seven targets, and thirteen guiding principles to adopt a people-centered approach and to recognize disability inclusive in Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The Sendai Framework ultimately shifted the focus from disaster management to disaster risk reduction with the primary focus on reducing the risk of both natural and man-made disasters while planning to rebuild cities in a sustainable, inclusive and resilient way. Following the Sendai Framework, the Dhaka Declaration on Disability and Disaster Risk Reduction took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015. Two important points discussed here are the recognition that persons with disabilities are most vulnerable during disasters and how poverty and disability can intersect. Its primary focuses were on ensuring a people-centered approach, engaging meaningfully with persons with disabilities at all levels, strengthening governance and partnerships, integrating gender, age and disability data, and promoting empowerment and protection. What stands out about the Dhaka Declaration is that it reemphasizes the issues raised from the conference, but also provides specific actions that can be taken by the countries involved. This provides clear goals for the future to guide governments and organizations towards inclusive disaster risk reduction that includes persons with disabilities in the decision-making processes.

The Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction of 2017, which took place in Cancun, Mexico, redefined accessibility in the modern age (UNISDR). To ensure that all persons with disability had access and were included in the decision-making processes of the conference, the GP2017 provided International Sign Language translators for support during sessions, offered remote participations at hubs in Bangladesh, Fiji, Belgium, and the United States, and introduced the use of robots to connect these remote hubs to the conference. Although live webcasting does not always give access to discuss topics and ideas further with other attendees, the robots gave more access to those not able to participate in person to virtually engage with the conference.

I am blown away by the use of technology in this way, because of its role in promoting accessibility and inclusivity. Yet, I recognize its limitations because all may not have access to this technology and technology might not always be reliable. With my capstone project on inclusive education in Malaysia, I am intrigued by the idea of using this technology in teacher training programs to promote an exchange of ideas and learning.