Why inclusive design is important for climate and crisis resilience in cities

Global Disability Innovation Hub, Iain McKinnon, Mikaela Patrick, Annamae Muldowney
Dec. 12, 2022
Case Studies and Reports

Cities worldwide are significantly exposed to the growing impact of climate crisis, from increased heat, intense weather changes, to disasters. According to the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, resilience is the, ‘capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption.’  At the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) we believe that in order to achieve resilience, everyone in the community must be enabled to respond to climate change and crisis on an equal basis.  This is the foundation of inclusive climate resilience.  With 80% of disabled people living in climate-vulnerable countries, embedding inclusive design into climate and crisis resilience strategies in cities are key to achieving this.

From our UK Aid funded AT2030 (Assistive Technology) programme, where we are conducting inclusive design case studies on six cities around the world, we have seen first-hand the need for inclusive climate and crisis resilience in lower resourced settings.  Disabled people are among the most at risk to the impacts of climate change​.  Even though this group of people make up 15% of the world’s population, interventions designed for climate mitigation and adaptation often fail to consider disability inclusive design, leaving just over a seventh of the population behind.  Without inclusive solutions, the impacts of climate change can exacerbate existing disabilities and cause new ones​.  The climate crisis will worsen health issues and inequalities with disruption to social protection and health care.  Food security can be lower with extreme events affecting production. Infrastructure destruction and damage can impact on secure housing and cause relocation to areas with low or no accessibility.  Sanitation and water supplies are also impacted due to stress on supply, flooding, and contamination. 

Find out more in the full paper featured on The Access Association.