01 / 09 / 2013
This paper highlights that non-economic losses pose challenges for measurement and therefore may go unnoticed or unaddressed by policy. It argues that discussions about loss and damage are really a discussion about value. It identifies three kinds of value: use value (measured relatively well by economic means), indirect use value (which sustains societal functions but which are not necessarily valued in economic terms), and symbolic value (which help forge identity and cooperative problem solving, but which similarly is not measured in monetary terms). Non-economic losses are those material goods and immaterial services which are lost through both direct and indirect climate change pathways.
The paper argues that representing non-economic loss and damage is critically important, but hard to do for several reasons: Markets do not value public goods essential for the function of human-natural systems (e.g. like ecosystem services). Markets tend to ignore symbolic values needed to forge identity and cooperative problem solving, and markets fail to value knowledge systems needed for creating value. Thus, formal accounts of loss and damage (or economic loss and damage) tend to undervalue the real costs of climate change.
As an alternative, this paper suggests that the focus of loss and damage should be on the role goods and services play in making societies resilient to stressors like climate change. In order to account for value in societies with different ways of thinking, modes and relations of production require different ways of understanding value.
When values are understood in ways that can capture these resilience-building roles, policy and practice will better be able to address loss and damage. Experience has shown that efforts to replace losses "only" via monetary compensation has not worked well. Instead, policy and practice on loss and damage must capture the opportunity for a more fundamental transformation. Any framework for loss and damage must aim not merely at compensating previous living conditions, but at improving them. The paper concludes with at least four areas for consideration by policy and practice: ensuring a broader view that values functions that are the source of resilience and problem solving (cultural practices, identity, traditional systems of knowledge); encouraging social participation as a principle in adaptation and addressing loss and damage; nurturing social capital to respond to non-economic loss and damage; and, finally, capturing the opportunity for transformation in the way loss and damage is assessed and addressed.
Read the full paper here: