The findings of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are clear: “Some extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and (or) severity as a result of climate change (high confidence).”1 In fact, the IPCC states with high confidence that, “[w]ith the frequency, severity and (or) likelihood of several types of extreme weather increasing, disasters can increasingly be regarded as ‘the public face of climate change’.”
The IPCC finds that where climate hazards interact with high vulnerability, climate change is contributing to humanitarian crises. It further concludes that “losses and damages will become increasingly difficult to avoid, while being strongly concentrated among the poorest vulnerable populations”.
It can be said with certainty that the impacts of climate change are increasing in severity and frequency, and vulnerable countries bear the brunt of it. Drought, storms, and floods are all examples of the impacts of climate change that are causing extensive loss and damage, including non-economic losses, such as the loss of lives and livelihoods, and/or economic losses, such as the loss of infrastructure or shelter.
While the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently debating how to address loss and damage caused by climate change, including through a mosaic of funding arrangements, there is also recognition that there must be a mosaic of solutions. This policy brief is based on a detailed 2023 report commissioned by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) titled “Humanitarian assistance and loss and damage: OCHA ́s crucial role in an evolving space” (2023 OCHA Loss and Damage report). This 2023 Loss and Damage report studied OCHA’s role as part of the solution to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, and in particular OCHA’s role in coordinating and mobilizing finance for humanitarian action through OCHA-managed pooled funds – the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF and 16 Country-based Pooled Funds (CBPFs).6 The report also looked at seven country case studies and examined specific humanitarian responses and activities, supported by OCHA-managed pooled funds, undertaken in the field after disaster struck (for example, providing shelter, food, and assistance for livelihoods and food security). This was done to determine if certain life-saving activities have co-benefits of minimizing and addressing aspects of loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change. This policy brief, based on some of the findings of the 2023 OCHA Loss and Damage report, summarizes OCHA’s crucial role in an evolving space, and finds that OCHA is uniquely placed to expand its role of coordinating humanitarian responses and mobilizing/channeling finance in minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts.