By Hyacinthe Niyitegeka
27 / 11 / 2023
Five fishermen pray for a benevolent sea in Dublar, Bangladesh, one year after Cyclone Sidr hit the region. Image Credit: Rodney Dekker / Climate Visuals, licenced under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

As climate change-induced economic and non-economic loss and damage escalates globally, there is an increase in discussions regarding effective strategies to address this issue. Throughout the course of this year, numerous discussions were held, encompassing a range of topics. These discussions included the finance and technical assistance needed to address loss and damage and took place under the elements, among which include:

Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements

One of the key discussions the countries held this year is the operationalising funding arrangements and fund for Loss and Damage which was established at COP 27, the 2022 annual UN Climate Change conference, held last year in Sharm-el-Sheikh.  The fund aims to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in responding to loss and damage. The consultations were held by the Transitional Committee, which was established alongside the fund and funding arrangements for Loss and Damage last year, and focused on making recommendations to make the funding and funding arrangements operational, which will be adopted at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28). The Transitional Committee met five times in 2022 to develop a set of recommendations for COP 27 and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). The recommendations, agreed upon by the members of the Transitional Committee at its fifth meeting held in early November have been regarded by many as a weak outcome in relation to climate justice. It is worth noting that these recommendations do not encompass many of the recommendations that developing countries were calling for which would have better prioritised the needs and priorities of the countries most affected by the climate crisis and those on the frontlines of the climate crisis within them.

Santiago Network for Loss and Damage 

Another significant topic of discussion revolves around the full operationalisation of the Santiago network, which was established in 2019 at COP 25 in Madrid. The network aims to connect expert stakeholders who provide technical assistance to developing countries to address the adverse effects of climate change. The discussions primarily revolved around the selection process for the host organisation of the secretariat of the Santiago network. Additionally, the countries and negotiation blocs were tasked with nominating the members of the network’s Advisory Board and are expected to select those members during COP 28. In the recommendations made by the Transitional Committee for Loss and Damage Fund, there were a few mentions of the Santiago network's role in the fund; however, more clarity on how the Santiago network fits well into the funding arrangements and fund is needed. Thus, countries need to have a discussion on this at COP 28 and beyond.

Loss and Damage in the Global Stocktake

In anticipation of the first-ever Global Stocktake which is expected to take place during COP 28, efforts were made this year to ensure better outcomes. The purpose of this stocktake is to effectively coordinate actions related to climate change, with a specific focus on addressing the gaps in progress that have emerged since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. The inclusion of Loss and Damage as a third pillar alongside mitigation and adaptation was one of the central calls of developing countries discussed during the inter-sessional meetings in Bonn and the workshop in Abu Dhabi this year. 

New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance

Another important discussion on Loss and Damage took place this year, focusing on the incorporation of Loss and Damage within the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance (NCQG). The purpose of this goal is to replace the climate finance commitment that was established in 2009. The commitment aimed to mobilise 100 billion USD annually for developing countries by the year 2020; unfortunately, it has not been fulfilled and is set to be replaced in 2025. Many countries from the developing world have been calling for the incorporation of Loss and Damage as a sub-goal alongside the mitigation and adaptation within the newly established climate finance goal.

What are the anticipated outcomes of COP 28 with regard to Loss and Damage?   

While the discussions have progressed there is still a lot of work to do to ensure ambitious outcomes at COP 28, which is scheduled to officially commence on November 30th and conclude on December 12th of this year.

Developing countries have consistently emphasised the need to prioritise and strengthen efforts to address climate change-induced loss and damage. This is crucial in order to facilitate the implementation of climate actions by developing countries to support households and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis within them. This year, there has been a significant emphasis on Loss and Damage, and it is anticipated that COP 28 will further prioritise these crucial deliberations aimed at fulfilling the needs and priorities of developing countries. 

On Fund and funding arrangements for Loss and Damage: An essential and desirable outcome of COP 28 is expected to be the full operationalisation of a new fund that is both suitable for its intended purpose and sufficiently resourced.  A group of researchers have proposed a minimum annual allocation of 400 billion USD for this fund, with the ultimate goal of raising trillions. This would serve as an initial indication of the magnitude of the demand. The allocated funds should possess the following characteristics: new, additional, grant-based, predicted, sustainable, accessible to vulnerable communities, and responsive to the priorities and needs of various countries. 

On Santiago network on Loss and Damage: At COP 28 developing countries need to see substantial advancements towards the full implementation of the Santiago network to ensure the accessibility of technical assistance. In order to catalyse technical assistance the Santiago network must be provided with adequate funding to effectively carry out its tasks. The timely delivery of technical assistance is crucial for developing countries that are vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change. It is imperative that this assistance is promptly provided to enable these countries to receive the necessary support required for effectively assessing and addressing loss and damage. This will also enable developing countries to better assess both current and projected loss and damage and develop policies, plans and actions to address both economic and non-economic loss and damage. Another significant matter that needs attention at COP 28 is the significance of the Santiago network within the realm of funding arrangements and its relationship with the fund. This is critical in order to begin to address the full spectrum and scope of needs in developing countries in relation to responding to loss and damage.

On Global Stocktake: as COP 28 will deliver the world’s first global stocktake on climate actions progress to implement the Paris Agreement, it is essential that this process leads to a scaling up of climate action on all fronts, from averting loss and damage through mitigation, minimising loss and damage through adaptation, and addressing loss and damage that is already underway.

On New Collective Quantified Goal: One of the other favourable results would involve incorporating Loss and Damage as a third component, alongside mitigation and adaptation, within the new climate finance goal through a dedicated sub-goal to ensure that Loss and Damage gets adequate finance. 

Recognising the urgency of addressing loss and damage and establishing the initiatives that aim to address it can be taken as milestones; however, it is so important to have them implemented as soon as possible. Thus, COP 28 should deliver concrete ways in which this will happen.

Hyacinthe Niyitegeka is a water scientist and a climate negotiator with experience working on climate policy in different contexts. She coordinates the Loss and Damage Collaboration, where she oversees day-to-day operations.

This article was generously supported by the Commonwealth Foundation.