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From the Global to the Local

loss and damage: fernando sanchez - bigLoss and damage resulting from climate change is not a new concept but it is a term that has been widely debated. Vanuatu, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, in 1991 made a proposal for countries to pay into an insurance mechanism to address their future losses due to sea level rise (SLR). Although it was not incorporated at the time, research on adaptation has inevitably led to discussions on impacts beyond adaptation and mitigation, including insurance mechanisms.

Work on loss and damage gained momentum after the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) where Parties called for increased understanding of risk management, risk reduction, risk sharing and risk transfer (terms now synonymous with the topic). After this, work presented at COP 16 led to the adoption of a work programme specific to address loss and damage impacts from climate change. This helped encourage Parties to call for the establishment of institutional arrangements on loss and damage two years later at COP 18.

Discussions on the issue reached a pivotal moment in 2013 with the creation of the Warsaw International Mechanism on loss and damage (WIM). The mechanism demonstrated the willingness of Parties to expand research on risk management components and gave them a two-year window to do so before re-evaluating the mechanism. At COP 20 in Lima, Parties agreed upon the composition of the Executive Body on loss and damage that will begin work on researching elements of the two-year work plan. One item not yet resolved however is whether loss and damage will become part of the new agreement that will be decided at COP 21 in Paris.

Despite the lengthy process of determining institutional arrangements for loss and damage at the international level, losses and damages continue being incurred by vulnerable communities. A recent report by UNU-EHS demonstrates losses occur through a number of different pathways. With research from nine different countries the report reveals losses occur when: 1) Coping and adaptation measures are not sufficient; 2) These measures have costs that are not recovered; 3) These measures are erosive and increase vulnerability; 4) No measures have been implemented whatsoever (Warner and van der Geest, 2013). Although identifying when losses occur and taking into consideration issues like gender inequalities is different in theory than in practice, there have been substantial efforts in the research to ensure gender considerations are made while building an evidence base of human impacts due to climate change. We are now at a point where empirical evidence on loss and damage is beginning to present impacts from an individual context, however it is also clear much more research is needed.


Image credit: Fernando Sanchez

Loss and damage from climate change: local-level evidence from nine vulnerable countries
K. Warner; K. van der Geest 2013
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, evidenc...
Tackling Loss & Damage – A new role for the climate regime?
R. Verheyen / Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative 2012
Discussion paper on the topic of loss and damage, within the context of ongoing UNFCCC negotiations. Produced as part of the Climate and Development Knowledge Network affiliated ‘Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Ini...
Are preventive and coping measures enough to avoid loss and damage from flooding in Udayapur district, Nepal?
K. Bauer 2013
Results from a case study in Nepal on climate change related coping and adaptation strategies, and residual loss and damage mitigation. Although the world’s ‘least developed’ countries have contributed little to ...
Coping measures not enough to avoid loss and damage from drought in the North Bank Region of The Gambia
S. Yaffa 2013
Paper examining the impact of the 2011 drought in Gambia, including coping and adaptation measures used and residual loss and damage. In 2011, the North Bank Region of The Gambia experienced its most severe drought in 20 years ...
The costs of adaptation in Punakha, Bhutan: Loss and damage associated with changing monsoon patterns
N. Wangdi,; K. Kusters / Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative 2013
Report examining the coping and adaptation measures used in Bhutan to address changing monsoon patterns and the risk of glacial lake outburst floods. In both scholarly debates and policy circles it is increasingly acknowledged ...
Salinity-induced loss and damage to farming households in coastal Bangladesh
G. Rabbani; A. Rahman; K. Mainuddin 2013
Salinity intrusion in soil caused by climate-induced hazards, especially cyclones and sea level rise, is adversely affecting rice production - a key staple food - in coastal Bangladesh. The southwest coastal district of Satkhira is on...
Tackling the double injustice of climate change and gender inequality
A. Otzelberger; M. Marshall / CARE International 2014
CARE paper outlining their work on the 'double injustice' of gender and climate change, and identifying key areas that must be addressed. This paper provides an overview of the links between the ‘double injustice’ o...
Loss and Damage in a warmer world: whither gender matters? Gender perspectives on the Loss and Damage debate
S. Neelormi; A., U. Ahmed / Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative 2012
Is the gender dimension adequately embedded in the loss and damage agenda? Many vulnerable countries will have to deal with unavoidable residual impacts of climate change which will result in loss and damage...