Accessibility at COP27

 Accessibility at COP27

By Estefane Galvão, Engajamundo

Engajamundo is participating in the 27th COP with 19 young people from 4 regions of Brazil. I, Estefane Galvão from the North region (Alter do Chão), had an accident a few days before the trip and sprained my foot. Now, I need to use a wheelchair here at the COP.

The COP space is huge, there are 5 areas spread over several kilometers and the agenda of Engajamundo demands to occupy these spaces and walk a lot here within the Blue Zone (conference area). On the second day, I started to feel harm at my knee and we decided to get a wheelchair to improve mobility.

This was a different experience for me, seeing the environment from another point of view has been very interesting and I am noticing the lack of accessibility at the COP (apart from some other shortcomings in basic things like water, food and toilets, but this is highlighted for another text). And that’s because I’m only addressing a specific case of accessibility, that of getting around with a wheelchair.

For a few days I’ve been in need of ramps and wide spaces to be able to use a wheelchair, and what we see is that there are few such spaces. I have noticed and talked to other people with disabilities (PCD) who are having difficulty. Most ramps are not efficiently finished, end in a step, are far from entrances and exits, and several pavilions do not have enough space to turn the chair. Most of the wheelchairs that COP offers are having problems: on the brakes, on the footrest and none of them are high leg.

But there is a positive side, the empathy of people who observe the difficulty of access and help, and the possibility of asking a COP volunteer to accompany the person.

We are in the first week of the biggest climate event and the lack of accessibility for different people around the world only grows: this must be reviewed. The COPs are marked by agreements, negotiations, people, pavilions, demonstrations and logistics. We see that the logistical and experience part of the COP has been negatively commented on in the networks and in the media and we bring this text to show a little more of these challenges.

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