The Bonn Climate Conference (SB 58) got off to a bumpy start with Parties and Groups not able to agree on the adoption of the official agenda. The agenda fight revolved around the Mitigation Work Plan, which the European Union (EU) and the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG) had requested be included on the agenda, whereas some groups including the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) said they could not progress without meaningful discussions on climate finance.
Ultimately the agenda fight that took place in Bonn speaks to a much larger issue —the need to massively scale up climate action and the failure to enable this by delivering on the $100bn (USD) promised for climate finance by developing countries at COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.
This broken promise has not only led to distrust within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process but to delayed climate action in developing countries. With finance promised for mitigation and adaptation not delivered, efforts to reduce emissions through decarbonisation and access to fossil-free development pathways have been curtailed and adaptation work to prepare for a warmer world has been limited. As a result, developing countries are now facing more loss and damage which is increasingly leading to the erosion of development gains, including those intended to reduce emissions. A point clearly articulated by Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International at the Paris Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in the days following the Bonn Climate Conference:
“You can not now talk about mitigation without dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis…We are seeing solar panels floating in floods.”
The overarching message from many developing countries in Bonn was that developed countries need to not only allow climate finance discussions to take place but also be prepared to scale up means of implementation due to the delays to climate action and the increasing costs of loss and damage.
Therefore, it is crucial that developed countries stop trying to avoid their obligations and historical responsibility for the climate crisis by trying to move away from the critical principles enshrined in the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement —Equity, the Polluter Pays, and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC).
SB 58 saw the second Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage take place. This was to be the first Glasgow Dialogue since the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 27 and the start of the Transitional Committee (TC) process and as a result, the expectations of civil society as well as the co-facilitators of the Transitional Committee (Outi Honkatukia & Richard Sherman) were high.
However, the second Glasgow Dialogue started as what Saleemul Huq of The International Center for Climate Change and Development referred to as a “Glasgow Monologue” with Parties and groups reading pre-prepared, and widely diverging statements on their visions for the Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements.
Yet, once the breakout sessions started the second Glasgow Dialogue became more of a dialogue with precise interventions from civil society and developing country Parties and Groups on what is required to operationalise a Fund and Funding arrangements that are fit-for-purpose.
Returning to Plenary for the final session, the second Glasgow Dialogue saw further statements from Parties and groups. The majority of these statements reinforced the urgency of rapidly operationalising a Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements that deliver at the scale, speed, and scope required to meet the needs of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
“Right now Vanuatu is overwhelmed with the task of addressing loss and damage. Communities are now being displaced. Entire islands are being devastated by category 5 storms. Language and culture are disappearing with coastlines.” Esline Garaebiti, Head of Delegation for Vanuatu, during the final plenary session of the Second Glasgow Dialogue.
Throughout the second Glasgow Dialogue, developing countries and the civil society organisations that support them were consistent in their calls for a Loss and Damage Fund to cover the full spectrum of loss and damage at the scale of needs, and to operate as a standalone fund as part of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement
Time and time again it was highlighted that the Fund must be “the glue”, “the centrepiece”, or “the weave”, that plays the central coordinating role in the “mosaic of solutions” for addressing loss and damage —be they under or outside of the UNFCCC. Whilst it was made clear that the Funding Arrangements must ensure a flow of new, additional, predictable, equitable and polluter pays, finance to the Fund.
It was also proposed that the Loss and Damage Fund should have multiple windows that can respond to the loss and damage caused by slow onset climatic processes and extreme events, non-economic and economic loss and damage, as well as for reconstruction and recovery. Notable proposals included the Least Developed Countries (LDC) vision of a Fund with three windows —one for early response, one for rehabilitation and recovery and one for ongoing effects of slow onset process— and civil societies' suggestion that the Fund should have a micro/small grants window directly accessible to community organisations. As highlighted during civil society interventions, a small grants window —with modalities that would allow communities, civil society organisations, and sub-national governments to directly access the Loss and Damage Fund with minimal bureaucracy— would be essential to ensure that support reaches those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
On governance, developing countries shared that they expect to see the Loss and Damage Fund as a stand-alone operating entity under the UNFCCC, accountable to the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, with an independent Board and Secretariat. That the Fund should be governed by the UNFCCC’s principles of Equity, the Polluter Pays, and CBDR-RC, under both the Conference of Parties (COP) and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). And that the Fund must be gender-responsive and capitalised at the scale of the needs, with finance scaled up as the climate crisis escalates.
However, visions still differ, with some developed countries continuing to emphasise the Loss and Damage Funding Arrangements over the Fund, with roles envisioned for the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) like the World Bank and the G7 and V20 Group’s Global Shield Against Climate Risk (Global Shield).
This is problematic because both the MDBs and the Global Shield are outside of the UNFCCC and its principles of Equity, the Polluter Pays and CBDR, meaning that contributor countries (developed country Parties) —who are the main decision-makers in both cases— would have control over the Loss and Damage Fund rather than developing countries. As the Loss and Damage Fund is designed to provide support to developing countries facing climate impacts, it's important that they should have the main say in its governance, rather than developed countries making decisions. This is because the more decision-making processes are balanced towards developing countries the more the decisions made are aligned with their needs.
Developed countries also suggested that the Santiago Network for Averting, Minimising and Addressing Loss and Damage (Santiago Network / SNLD) and the Global Shield could play coordinating roles for the Loss and Damage Funding Arrangements. However, as highlighted during interventions by developing country Parties (Ethiopia) and civil society (Colin McQuistan of Practical Action), the Santiago Network’s mandate is to catalyse technical assistance and therefore it is not appropriate for it to be the coordinating entity of the Fund. That said, many developing countries see the Santiago Network as a key part of the funding arrangements on Loss and Damage.
On a positive note, there was recognition by a wide set of Parties and civil society that sources of finance that see the polluter pay, and are fair, alternative, and public based (e.g. fossil fuel, maritime and frequent flyer levies) should be mobilised to supplement developed country contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund.
As the second Glasgow Dialogue closed it was confirmed that a synthesis report would be drawn up to inform the third meeting of the Transitional Committee (TC 3), where work will continue to provide recommendations on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 28.
SANTIAGO NETWORK FOR LOSS AND DAMAGE
On matters related to the Santiago Network for averting, minimising and addressing Loss and Damage, Parties met at SB 58 with the principal aim of deciding who would host the secretariat of the Santiago Network, either the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) or the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), to enable the Santiago Network to become fully operational.
At the same time, Parties also worked to consider what guidance could be provided in a draft text for the benefit of the UNFCCC’s Secretariat in carrying out its task to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the host that would be selected by Parties.
Early on in the first week of SB 58, the prospective hosts made presentations to Parties on how they would deliver the Santiago Network and meet the expectations of Parties in an informal question and answer session.
Building on what had already been learned about the prospective host via the Evaluation Panel Report prepared by the UNFCCC ahead of SB 58, Parties asked a series of questions and also requested and received written inputs in subsequent days to enable them to continue to work towards ascertaining which was the stronger of the two proposals. Parties and groups then moved to sharing their views on who should host the Santiago Network and working on drafting the decision text that would be used as the basis for decision-making at COP 28 / CMA 5. By the end of SB 58, working in good faith, Parties were able to reach consensus on the draft decision text that met the concerns —largely of the G77 and China— of the need to include detailed guidance to the UNFCCC secretariat on drafting the MoU.
The need for providing guidance to the UNFCCC secretariat as to what to include in the MoU was driven by specific developing country Party concerns on particular aspects in both of the proposals for hosting the Santiago Network secretariat. The concerns that were reflected in the draft MoU text included:
1. Independence of the Santiago Network secretariat from the host organisation;
2. Regional presence of the host;
3. Ensuring the full spectrum of loss and damage is addressed through the technical assistance provided;
3. Ensuring the host can receive financial support through all parts of the host consortia;
4. Information on the financial, in-kind and other support for the Santiago Network secretariat;
5. The importance of a lean, cost-efficient organisational structure; and;
6. Conflicts of interest, i.e. situations where the host (or its partners) might also play the role of an organisation, body, network or expert (OBNE) in the Santiago Network.
However, after many sessions, Parties were unable to reach an agreement to select the host organisation of the Santiago Network. Instead, they will continue consideration of the matter at SB 59 in December 2023 (during COP 28), taking into account the draft text prepared at SB 58.
Throughout the many consultations that took place the issue of regional representation emerged as a major sticking point. And although a number of compromise proposals emerged that would see shared hosting roles for both UNDRR with UNOPS and the CDB —thereby ensuring representation in the Caribbean and Africa— an agreement could not be reached. Whilst this is disappointing, we must respect the rights of developing countries to determine the host.
The most direct impact of a lack of agreement on the selection of the host for the Santiago Network is a delay in the full operationalisation of the SNLD itself. In the best-case scenario, where Parties select a host at COP 28 / CMA 5, the UNFCCC secretariat will then be able to prepare the MoU during the first half of 2024 for presentation to Parties at SB 60 in Bonn in June, 2024. While the subsidiary bodies at the SB 60 would be able to endorse the MoU and/or propose changes to it, only Parties at COP 29 / CMA 6 would be able to authorise the UNFCCC Executive Secretary to sign the MoU on their behalf.
There are also several unknowns at this stage in the process, which may need to be resolved. These include:
1. The lifespan of the proposals made by the two proponents; and;
2. Whether UNDRR and UNOPS and/or the CDB wish to continue their pursuit of the hosting role.
On a more positive note, the delay to the full operationalisation of the Santiago Network will provide Parties with additional time to work on shoring up the perceived weaknesses in each of the proposals for hosting the Santiago Network’s secretariat. Whilst clarity around the operation and governance of the Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements —to be agreed at COP 28— could also shed further light on where the Santiago Network fits in the broader context of finance for loss and damage.
In other good news, Parties were able to agree to elements relating to the Santiago Networks’ Advisory Board, including encouraging Parties to make nominations by mid-November in advance of COP. Therefore, hope remains that Parties will heed this encouragement and the Advisory Board will become operational as early as possible in 2024. A year’s delay in the establishment of the Santiago Network secretariat and the working of the network itself would allow time for the Advisory Board to be formed (as planned) during 2024 and for its members to settle into their roles, properly setting the stage for the Santiago Network secretariat to be established and accomplish its mandates.
The delay of the selection of the host should not delay the provision of technical assistance. The UNFCCC secretariat could begin responding to requests from vulnerable developing countries and matching them with OBNEs which could provide the required technical assistance immediately. Developed countries have already made pledges to the Santiago Networks and these pledges could be put to use to deliver this urgently needed support.
For a more detailed exploration of what happened at SB 58 on the Santiago Network and the implications for its full operationalisation see this brief from Linda Siegele and Heidi White.
During SB 58, from the 6–13th of June, Parties and observers took part in the third and final Technical Dialogue (TD 1.3) of the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement (GST). TD 1.3 indicated the end of the technical phase of the first GST, with key sessions on Loss and Damage including the roundtable on Adaptation/Loss and Damage in the afternoon of the 8th of June, during which Parties and civil society responded to a set of questions.
Heading to SB 58, our expectations were to see Loss and Damage included meaningfully into the GST to ensure that regular reviews of finance to address loss and damage are taking place, in order to identify gaps, levels of accessibility to finance, the social and economic impact of financing flows to address loss and damage, and other relevant trends.
During the roundtable on Adaptation/Loss and Damage, many Parties and observers stressed the urgent need for addressing loss and damage, the inadequacy of current Loss and Damage responses, as well as the importance of accelerating collective action on mitigation, adaptation, and addressing the full spectrum of loss and damage needs.
Following SB 58, the co-chairs of TD 1.3 will prepare a summary report which will be published in August, with the synthesis report from all three dialogues due in September. Of some concern is the intention of the co-chairs to reduce the 17,000 plus pages of submissions that they have received to a report totalling just 20 pages.
Whilst it is good news that Loss and Damage will be reflected as a separate chapter in the draft decision titled “Efforts Related to Loss and Damage” it will be essential to make sure that this chapter focuses on addressing Loss and Damage, and not on averting (mitigation), and minimising (adaptation), which are covered in stand-alone chapters.
Following SB 58 and prior to COP 28, the Chairs of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) will convene an intersessional in-person workshop in October 2023 to develop elements for the considerations of outputs component (phase three) of the GST, to inform the work of the Joint Contact Group which will make the decision on the outcome of the GST at COP 28.
To be successful, the GST outcome must be forward-looking. The extent of loss and damage must be used to ratchet up mitigation through the enhancement of NDCs—mitigation is the most effective way to avoid future loss and damage. Furthermore, the GST must drive investment in adaptation.
It will be essential that the GST move us further down the road to climate justice. Actions to address Loss and Damage must scale up as the climate crisis escalates and we will need to monitor our progress towards meeting the needs of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
NEW COLLECTIVE QUANTIFIED GOAL ON CLIMATE FINANCE
The Sixth Technical Expert Dialogue (TED 6) on the New Collective Quantified Goal on Climate Finance (NCQG) took place on the 12th and 13th of June. During TED 6, we hoped to see Loss and Damage considered as the third pillar of climate finance with a subgoal under the NCQG. And for the NCQG to recognise the need for trillions of dollars for mitigation, adaptation and Loss and Damage.
Throughout TED 6, Loss and Damage featured in plenary and breakout group discussions, with many developing country Parties and Groups and civil society observers, calling for an NCQG subgoal on Loss and Damage. This call for a subgoal is supported by many developing country groups and Parties as well as civil Society. Civil society made strong interventions calling for three sub-goals under the NCQG for mitigation, adaptation, and Loss and Damage that were balanced. And made it loud and clear that an NCQG subgoal for Loss and Damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year would be a step towards ensuring that the Loss and Damage Fund is capitalised at the scale of the needs.
Throughout TED 6, discussions focused on the issues of scope, quantity, sources and financial inputs for the NCQG, and through the conversations differing visions on the sources of finance and quantum of NCQG emerged. Developing country Parties highlighted that at the core of the NCQG there needs to be public finance provided that does not increase debt with complimentary input from private finance. Whilst Developed countries focused on widening the contributor base for climate finance (e.g. to include developing economies such as China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and looking at leveraging and de-risking of private finance as the way to reach the scale of finance needed for the NCQG in the context of Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement. This is seen as a distraction from developed countries' unmet commitments to provide public climate finance.
The time and place for the next TED 7 haven’t yet been announced but we understand that Geneva is being discussed as a venue and that it is likely that TED 7 will take place in late September. TED 7 will be important because it will discuss the quality of finance provision, including accessibility, human rights, and gender, which are very important for Loss and Damage finance. Negotiations on the NCQG are due to conclude at COP 29 in 2024.
SIDE EVENTS AND ACTIONS
Throughout SB 58 civil society played a massive role in supporting and amplifying the Loss and Damage demands of developing countries across side events and actions led by the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, Climate Action Network, and the UNFCCC’s Youth (YOUNGO), Women and Gender, and Indigenous Peoples Consistencies, as well as many more.
To revisit all of the excellent side events held at SB 58 visit the UNFCCC YouTube playlist for the Bonn Climate Conference here.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
So what does all that was achieved (or that was not achieved) mean on the long road to COP 28?
On the Santiago Network: There is much work to do to fully operationalise the decisions of COP 25, 26 and 27. For developing countries, the Santiago Network must be equipped to provide technical assistance by early 2024. We expect pledges for the Santiago Network from developed countries at COP 28.
Having had discussions on the host of the Santiago Network’s secretariat, its advisory board and the MoU for the host, Parties have unpacked in some detail their concerns and have more clarity regarding expectations for a fit-for-purpose Santiago Network.
Carrying these concerns forward and ensuring a robust architecture for Loss and Damage technical support under the UNFCCC is of the utmost importance as the climate crisis intensifies and the needs of communities and countries on the frontlines become increasingly urgent.
On the NCQG: Discussions will continue at TED 7 in September (TBC). We expect convergence on the need for a subgoal on Loss and Damage to emerge and growing recognition of the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to address Loss and Damage in the quantum.
On the GST: The TD1.3 report, and the synthesis report from the TD phase of the GST, must clarify the finance and implementation gaps that we need to fill in order to ratchet up mitigation implementation to keep 1.5⁰C alive, scale up adaptation efforts, and kickstart work to address Loss and Damage.
On the Loss and Damage Fund and Funding Arrangements: the Transitional Committee has a lot of work to ensure COP 28 takes a decision to operationalise the Fund with the scale and scope necessary. At TC 3 it is critical that we see real progress (and some text) on recommendations that the Transitional Committee will provide to COP 28 on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund, including how it will be filled.
On climate finance and fossil fuels: We expect all Parties to commit to a rapid phase-out of all Fossil Fuels at COP 28 to keep 1.5⁰C alive —this is the best way to reduce future Loss and Damage. To do so, developing countries need the finance they have been promised for mitigation, there can be no more delays.
On climate finance: To avert loss and damage through mitigation, and minimise Loss and Damage through adaptation, developing countries will need the finance (and much more) that they have been promised. This means that there can be no more delays or excuses from developed countries on the $100 billion dollars promised to developed countries at COP 15 in Copenhagen. For adaptation in particular, this finance should be provided as grants, not loans.
On participation: A number of barriers prevented colleagues from the global South from participating meaningfully at SB 58 including the granting of visas. COP 28 must ensure civil society participation and safe civic space whilst respecting human rights.
On the COP 28 Presidency: Although the Emirates COP 28 Presidency has been very quiet to date, we need them to step up and make it clear that they support the demand to phase out fossil fuels —not distractions like carbon capture storage (CCS) and geoengineering— and that they seek an ambitious outcome on operationalising the Loss and Damage Fund at COP 28.
Hyacinthe Niyitegeka is a water scientist and member of the New Generation of young negotiators from developing countries. She coordinates the Loss and Damage Collaboration She believes in the power and important role of youth in addressing the loss and damage caused by climate change.
Teo Ormond-Skeaping is the Loss and Damage Collaboration’s Advocacy, Outreach and Communications Lead, he is also an award-winning artist, filmmaker and photographer working on projects relating to political ecology, Loss and Damage, climate-induced migration and displacement, Slow Violence and the political and cultural critique of the Anthropocene.
Julie-Anne Richards is the Loss and Damage Collaboration’s Strategy Lead. She has two decades of experience working on the climate crisis, has written extensively on loss and damage, and campaigned with civil society and in collaboration with vulnerable countries on the need for loss and damage finance.
Erin Roberts is the founder and Global Lead of the Loss and Damage Collaboration. She’s spending the summer reflecting on how we can meet the needs of the most vulnerable on all fronts. And spending time in nature and with loved ones because radical self-care is important too. She invites you to get in touch with her if you have any ideas you’d like to share on how we can create the kind of world we all want to live in.
This article has been supported by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung New York Office with support from the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The publishers are solely responsible for the content of this publication; the opinions presented here do not reflect the position of the BMZ. We also note that views and any errors, are the authors alone and that the content of this brief does not necessarily represent the views of all the members of the Loss and Damage Collaboration (L&DC).