Loss and damage from climate change: local-level evidence from nine vulnerable countries

Loss and damage from climate change: local-level evidence from nine vulnerable countries

Loss and damage is already a significant consequence of inadequate ability to adapt to changes in climate patterns. This paper, published in the International Journal of Global Warming, reports on the first ever multi-country, evidence-based study on loss and damage from the perspective of affected people in least developed and other vulnerable countries. Researchers in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Kenya, Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal conducted household surveys, as well as more than a hundred focus group discussions and open interviews about loss and damage. The research reveals four loss and damage pathways, with impacts from climate stressors occurring when: existing coping/adaptation to biophysical impact is not enough; measures have costs (including non-economic) that cannot be regained; despite short-term merits, measures have negative effects in the longer term; and when no measures are adopted or possible to implement. An important aspect of the analysis suggested by the authors is that only the fourth loss and damage pathway that was identified is related to ‘hard limits’ where no measures are possible. For the other loss and damage pathways, a more nuanced interplay between climatic stressors and their impacts on societal values can and needs to be addressed by increasing adaptive capacity, reducing exposure and vulnerability, and undertaking measures that increase the ability of affected people to adjust to the stressors they face within their social-ecological systems. The research suggests that at some scales and in some regions human societies already exist precariously between the borders of ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ operating spaces at the adaptation frontier, with some of the most notable current impacts concerning household food production and livelihoods. More evidence is therefore needed on how society functions in the context of barriers and limits to adaptation, and what the consequences of exceeding limits at different scales might be. Finally, some of the following gaps were identified in the literature: which climate stressors are of greatest concern to human systems; how do climate stressors affect sustainable development objectives like food and livelihood security, poverty, and health; what adaptive actions are undertaken proactively or reactively to manage these climate stressors; and what are the consequences of inadequate adaptation for actors. [adapted from source]

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