Side Event to the 12th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Watch the event video


“If we can get disaster management right for people with disability, we can get it right for all people. Inclusion means everyone and makes communities truly resilient.”

—Marcie Roth, CEO, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

People with disabilities have the right to protection and safety in situations of risk, including natural disasters. Yet they are disproportionately impacted during disasters and are often left out of relief and recovery efforts due to the lack of inclusive emergency healthcare, accessible shelters and transportation, access to effective communication, and community supports.

Even before Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, nearly half of the disability community was living below the poverty line. Since then, mental and physical health needs have increased. People with disabilities struggle to access basic healthcare and medical supplies, and inclusive community-based services face even greater barriers. The Puerto Rico Disability Community Relief Network offers one example of an inclusive disaster management model, effectively demonstrating how stakeholders across sectors can work together to involve and support people with disabilities.

What can we learn from the experience of Puerto Rico? How can we improve communication and collaboration among CSOs, DPOs, government agencies, and service providers to improve outcomes for everyone? How can the Sustainable Development Goals support inclusive disaster management?

On June 11, 2019, a panel of experts and activists from Puerto Rico and the mainland United States explored disaster management, social inclusion, and the potential of stakeholders across sectors to work together to involve and support people with disabilities.

Highlights from the panelists and audience:

  • Coordinated collaborations between the state and federal government, the government and NGOs, and among NGOs themselves is critical at every stage of the disaster management process.
  • Truly inclusive disaster management can only be done when people with disabilities are part of the planning process.
  • If disaster management strategies address the needs of people with disabilities, outcomes will be improved for everyone and communities will become more resilient.

For more information about the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, visit the UN’s website (external website).


Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo, Global Disability Advisor, World Bank Group

Marcie Roth, CEO, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies

Dr. Carol Salas Pagan, Executive Director, Institute on Developmental Disabilities, University Center for Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at the University of Puerto Rico

Betzaida Ramos Charriez, Executive Director, Center for Independent Living: MAVI – Movement for Achieving Independent Living

Barbara Merrill, CEO, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)


Charles J. Hooker, III, President & CEO, Keystone Human Services

Additional Side Events

Keystone Human Services is pleased to co-sponsor two other side events at COSP12:

Persons with Intellectual Disabilities and Institutions: Lived Experiences and Ways to Achieve Deinstitutionalization

Organized by Inclusion International

Learn More

Just Include Me: Making Social Inclusion and Good Health a Reality for All of Us

Organized by New South Wales Council for Intellectual Disability

Learn More

View event flyer

Sign interpretation graphic
Sign interpretation and CART will be provided.
The World Bank logo
Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies logo
ANCOR logo
Puerto Rico Disability Community Relief Network logo
Universidad de Puerto Rico logo
DPI- Defensoria de las Personas con impedimentos - Defender of the People with Disabilities logo
MAVI logo
PRATP logo