Non-economic loss and damage: addressing the forgotten side of climate change impacts

Non-economic loss and damage: addressing the forgotten side of climate change impacts

Non-economic loss and damage (NELD) has emerged as a new concept in the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It refers to the negative impacts of climate change that are difficult to measure or quantify. The value of NELD cannot easily be expressed in monetary terms, which has left them mostly neglected in climate-risk and cost estimates. As a result, although NELD are vital to those affected, they often go unnoticed by the outside world.

A focus on NELD invites engagement with the normative dimensions of the loss-and-damage debate: Whose losses and damages count and how are they counted? What losses are the global community willing to accept as a result of unmitigated climate change? At the same time, the practical aspects of NELD need to be considered: What tools and instruments are available to avoid NELD? What are appropriate ways to react to NELD that prove to be unavoidable or that have already occurred?

Instances of NELD are highly diverse. Relevant insights can be gained from a range of academic disciplines, including economics, human geography and environmental psychology. Still, few studies explicitly address NELD. Currently, 10 meta-categories of NELD can be identified: Human Life, Meaningful Places, Cultural Artefacts, Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, Communal Sites, Production Sites, Intrinsic Values, Identity and Agency.
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