Presented in conjunction with the UNSW Disability Innovation Institute.

Part of the UNESCAP High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Final Review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, Subtheme 3: Emerging issues and opportunities.

Disasters, including associated health emergencies such as pandemics, have major negative impacts on development because of the social and economic disruption they cause. The Asia-Pacific region is already among the world’s most disaster-vulnerable areas and is predicted to be more exposed to the coming effects of climate change, increasing both the frequency and the impact of disasters to catastrophic levels.

People with disability are disproportionately affected by disasters and health emergencies, which means that in Asia and the Pacific they are now at heightened risk. It is widely accepted that the vulnerability of people with disability is exacerbated by their exclusion from active participation in disaster risk reduction programmes and policies. Because of this, the Incheon Strategy includes ensuring disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management in its core goals (Goal 7).

This event brought together key Asia-Pacific voices in a panel of practitioner-scholars with expertise in disability, development and disasters. Participants considered emerging issues at the intersection of disability, other marginal identities, and development, with an emphasis on public health and disability policies in the Asia-Pacific context of disaster risk. Discussion sought to identify actionable commitments on priority issues, including ways of increasing the leadership of people with disability in finding solutions and increasing resilience.


Ms Rosemary Kayess, Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, human rights lawyer and disability advocate.

Associate Professor Michelle Villeneuve, Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Research and Policy, The University of Sydney.

Ms Risnawati Utami, Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Founder and Disability Rights Adviser of OHANA Indonesia.