On the Climate Emergency and Disaster Response

This is a statement of the Darlington 3 community event, held in Williamstown, Melbourne, 7-9 January 2020.

The climate emergency is one of the greatest challenges that humanity faces. It is a global human rights and health emergency. Impacts are already being felt in our region, adding to the severity of drought, floods and bushfires. Swift, meaningful and effective preparation and prevention work is essential to tackle ecological, social and economic harm that will only worsen over time. The cost of inaction is too great.

We express our profound and enduring gratitude to our fire, emergency, community and allied services, as well as our defence forces, for their work. We acknowledge the sacrifice, hardship and loss faced by individuals, families, communities and small businesses. We express our gratitude and solidarity to members of our community who are volunteers of emergency and allied services, are assisting communities, or are displaced or unable to travel at present, particularly those who are not able to be with us.

The evidence available to us is that minority populations suffer greater inequalities during and following humanitarian disasters, and in other times of economic hardship and distress. As acknowledged by the Darlington Statement, intersex people have existed in all cultures and societies throughout history. We are a minority population that live in every region. We are part of every demographic.

Stigma and social taboos place people with intersex variations and our families at particular risk of social exclusion and poverty. In common with other sexual and gender minorities, intersex people may face particular concerns with access to services and sanitation. Our support networks are often limited. As such, these concerns make the climate emergency an intersex human rights issue.

We call on all people in all communities, especially those with intersex variations, our allies, our financial donors and all signatories of the Darlington Statement. We ask you to work for universal human rights, and social, economic, climate and ecological justice. We ask that our community take individual and collective action and responsibility.

Recognising the importance of individual action, and the urgent need to move beyond that, we commit our organisations to achieving zero net carbon emissions by 2022. We undertake to reduce our dependence on air travel and to offset carbon emissions when travel is necessary. We commit to identifying and implementing additional ways to reduce our environmental footprint.

We call on our governments to declare a climate emergency and to take swift, meaningful and effective action to address the climate emergency by:

  • reducing carbon emissions
  • promoting a just economic transition away from fossil fuels
  • protecting water and other essential supplies for rural and urban communities and farmers
  • protecting the unique ecologies of our countries, and
  • improving resourcing especially to volunteer fire and emergency services.

We call on our governments to recognise and address the specific needs of vulnerable and stigmatised minority populations in disaster response measures.

Darlington Statement

Additional resources:

World Health Organization. Undated. ‘Environmental Health in Emergencies: Vulnerable Groups’. https://www.who.int/environmental_health_emergencies/vulnerable_groups/en/.

Rainbow Pride Foundation Fiji, Edge Effect, and Oxfam. 2018. ‘Down By The River Addressing the Rights, Needs and Strengths of Fijian Sexual and Gender Minorities in Disaster Risk Reduction and Humanitarian Response’. https://www.australianhumanitarianpartnership.org/library-contents/down-by-the-river-addressing-the-rights-needs-and-strengths-of-fijian-sexual-and-gender-minorities-in-disaster-risk-reduction-and-humanitarian-response