58th Climate Change Conference: Young Negotiators’ Expectations on Loss and Damage and their Call for more Youth Engagement

The 58th

Subsidiary Bodies:

Young Negotiators’

Expectations on Loss

and Damage and their

Call for more Youth


By Brenda Mwale, Honorine Isingizwe, Hyacinthe Niyitegeka, Justina Belo and Yared Abera
31 / 05 / 2023
Member of the New Generation of Young Negotiators at COP 27. Olivier Ishimwe (left), Jefferson Estela, Eva Peace Mukayiranga, Hyacinthe Niyitegeka, Justina Belo, Alpha Amadou Diallo, Brenda Mwale, Isingizwe Honorine (right). Image credit: The Loss and Damage Collaboration © 2022.

Climate change is a global emergency affecting millions of people around the world in many different ways; including the frequent heavy rains which lead to flooding and landslides, cyclones, hurricanes, drought, sea level rise, coastal erosion, rising temperatures among many other impacts. Already this year, we have witnessed many impacts of human induced climate change, which led to both economic and non economic loss and damage. To highlight a few: severe drought which directly affected 50 million people and left 20 million people at risk of acute food insecurity and potentially famine in the Horn of Africa. In southern Africa Tropical Cyclone Freddy led to heavy rains and flooding in Madagascar, Malawi, and Mozambique, causing more than 600 deaths and displacing more than a million people. The cyclone significantly affected the livelihoods  of many in the region and will have long-standing impacts. Similarly, very recently heavy rains caused flooding in the  Democratic Republic of Congo, causing a loss of 400 lives, destroying arable land and thousands of  homes. In Pakistan communities are still feeling the effects of the flooding that occurred last year. Communities in South Sudan are experiencing shortage and contamination of water due to frequent droughts and floods, respectively. These impacts are being felt by many more communities in countries across the world,  including Turkey, Peru, Maldives, Rwanda, among very many others. 

Sadly,  these impacts are escalating and disproportionately experienced by women, girls, people with disabilities, children and other marginalised communities, and those who rely most on smallholder agriculture are the most affected. The reality of the impacts of climate crisis were confirmed by researchers and scientists in a recent Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) where they stressed that “the adverse impacts of human induced climate change are worsening and leading to losses and damages to nature and people leaving vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change disproportionately affected”. 

Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) come together regularly (twice every year unless the Parties decide otherwise) among other things, to decide how the international community should address the worsening climate crisis.  Keeping in mind that the main role of the Convention is “to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous human induced interference with the climate system.”  Parties met for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) last year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to negotiate different issues. Loss and Damage is one of the topics that saw particular progress.

What is expected for the 58th session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies?

In one week, representatives of 198 Parties to the UNFCCC will meet in Bonn, Germany, for the 58th session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SBs) to discuss how to advance climate action on different thematic issues. Our question is: Will discussions bring back lost hope to the communities on the frontlines of climate change? 

The main issues under Loss and Damage that have made progress and what is expected for SB 58 include:

•  Loss and Damage finance:  Parties to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement established the Loss and Damage fund (LDF), which has been a key ask of vulnerable developing countries for 30 years.  The fund will support the most vulnerable developing countries in responding to loss and damage. What is expected for Bonn? At SB 58, there will be an opportunity for Parties to discuss loss and damage funding at the Glasgow Dialogue. It will be critical that they highlight among others the scale of funding needed to address loss and damage; grant-based public finance; how to ensure additionality, adequacy, predictability and sustainability of funding; innovative sources of  finance to address loss and damage. The Glasgow Dialogue is expected to inform the work of the Transitional Committee of the Loss and Damage Fund. The Transitional Committee members are also expected to brief the status of their work to the broader Parties participating in the dialogue per their suggestion during their second meeting that happened last week.  

•  Santiago Network: At COP27, countries also agreed on the institutional arrangements of the Santiago Network for averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage (SNLD) which aims to catalyse the technical assistance for averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage in developing countries. The structure of the Santiago Network includes the hosted Secretariat, Advisory Board and network of organisations, bodies, networks and experts (OBNEs). What is expected for Bonn? At SB 58, Parties will be presented with options for the SNLD secretariat's host organisation. They must ensure that the organisation they recommend is able to deliver the key functions of the SNLD, such as identifying, prioritising and communicating technical assistance needs and priorities; identifying types of relevant technical assistance; actively connecting those seeking technical assistance with best suited OBNEs; and accessing technical assistance available including from such OBNEs; as well as facilitating access to action and support (finance, technology and capacity building) under and outside UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement to avert, minimise and address loss and damage.

•  Global Stocktake: At COP27, the ongoing Global Stocktake (GST) dialogues included more discussions around loss and damage than they had previously (at  SB 56 participants expressed their concerns about insufficient emphasis on loss and damage). The remaining issue is whether  loss and damage will be reflected in the final outcome of the GST at COP28. What is expected for Bonn? Our expectation is to see that Party and non-party stakeholders are encouraged and coordinated and continue pushing to ensure that the collected information on the GST reflects the opinions, needs and priorities of the people who are most affected by loss and damage including indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities, youth and other marginalised groups as it is necessary to collect data directly on the ground to inform on the reality of loss and damage. There is a need for Parties to and most specifically encourage developing countries to include relevant information on finance, technology and capacity building in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and there is a critical need for support so that developing countries can collect and communicate  this information. 

•  New Collective Quantified Goal: In previous dialogues on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG), the participants from Parties and non-Party organisations emphasised that Loss and Damage should be included as the third pillar alongside mitigation and adaptation in NCQG. Our overall expectation is that Parties must prioritise Loss and Damage  and be included in the NCQG as the third pillar and as a separate sub-goal, and the remaining technical expert dialogues must ensure this before the NCQG is set in 2024. What is expected for Bonn? The NCQG has to reflect the priorities and needs of communities on the frontline of climate change. These needs must be reflected  in the scale of the goal of loss and damage under NCQG, to ensure that the amount of loss and damage finance is based on country ownership, driven by the communities needs assessment, which means following a demand driven approach. The 6th Technical Expert Dialogue is expected to deliberate on the quantity mobilisation and provision, sources and on the specific role of the new goal. 

•  Governance: At COP27, Parties failed to make progress in  agreeing on the governance of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM). It is the position of developing countries that the WIM is governed by both the COP and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) while developed countries argue that the WIM is governed solely by the CMA. The governance of the WIM has significant implications for future work on Loss and Damage. What is expected for Bonn? Parties should continue to discuss and advocate for the governance of WIM under both COP and CMA.

Though progress has been made on these, there is still a long way to go to ensure that vulnerable communities on frontlines of climate change have the resources needed to address loss and damage on the ground;  ensuring key elements including capacity building, climate finance and technical support are delivered on time without a further delay. 

There is a need of more youth engagement in climate action

Younger generations are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and are concerned about their future. Some youth are engaged in a variety of climate action activities in their communities and also participate in the decision-making process, including climate  negotiations. Among these young individuals are the members of the New Generation of young negotiators from developing countries who have been following negotiations for some time (since COP 25). We are pleased to be included and guided in this process, and we are grateful to our mentors and governments for their assistance. However, we still observe a gap in youth engagement and the need for more youth participation in the process as we discuss our future (as these decisions will have a long run impact on our future). In the light of this;

•  It is essential that young people comprehend their role in bringing about the change they desire and building climate-resilient communities. We have witnessed the potential of youth, so it is critical that we participate actively in the discussions and sit at the table where decisions regarding our future are made.

•  It is imperative for youth around the globe to engage actively in their governments’ plan of actions including the review and implementation of national plans such as the NDCs and National Adaptation Plans (NAP) where they can share their perspectives and ensure their needs are included in these plans.

•  We are calling on all people, including our fellow youth around the world and from all sectors, to act urgently in collaboration with one another and with others to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis on communities, focusing on those on the frontlines in the global South.

Furthermore, we must ensure that all discussions on climate change and climate action are conducted in partnership with the most affected communities with a view to ensure that the community leaders understand the issue of loss and damage including the result of negotiation globally. Lastly but not least, it is also essential to recognise that the sooner we mitigate and adapt to climate change, the more effectively we can prevent future loss and damage.

Brenda Mwale, Honorine Isingizwe, Hyacinthe Niyitegeka, Justina Belo and Yared Abera are the members of the New Generation of young negotiators from developing countries actively engaged in negotiations.