Addressing Loss and Damage conference - practical action: summary report

In October 2022, Scotland hosted a conference which brought together international representatives and practitioners to articulate best practice and explore innovative new opportunities to mobilise finance for, and address Loss and Damage ahead of COP27.

6. Delivering Loss and Damage Interventions

Participants were presented with examples of loss and damage interventions in order to articulate what successful delivery of such interventions would look like and to draw out best practice. They were then asked to consider how far that example was replicable and in what contexts, how the example accounted for uncertainty and how that and similar interventions contributed to long term resilience.

Delivering interventions to address loss and damage is complex, requiring the implementation of different measures to address different types of losses and damages over time. In any one location people will be affected differently by the same hazard and may require a variety of supports to help them recover and build resilience for the next shock.

Conference participants were presented with a continuum of interventions that address loss and damage which intersect with development and humanitarian activities. This includes disaster preparedness and response measures delivered before and immediately after a shock, followed by recovery, rehabilitation and resilience building, and complemented by long-term measures to address unavoidable increases in hazards. As climate shocks increase in frequency and severity, and extreme weather events interact with slow onset processes, these hazards will compound one upon another with devastating results. This will require a ratcheting up of interventions over time. ‘Fat-tail’ events, i.e. low probability but highly destructive, are becoming more common and need to be planned for and responded to effectively.

There can be no one-size-fits-all response to address loss and damage, with economic and non-economic forms of loss and damage in particular requiring very different types of intervention. Multiple interventions must be layered in a comprehensive approach. Similarly, no single source of finance will be suitable for all interventions, so finance from different sources must also be layered to enable effective delivery of combined practical measures.

There are institutional constraints that determine how well finance and measures to address loss and damage are channelled to where they are needed. Most funds require prior knowledge of the intervention and its potential impact. This complicates the creation of bottom-up, locally-led interventions. There can be numerous administrative hurdles that often make finance inaccessible to low-income countries and grassroots organisations, as they do not always have the required levels of financial literacy to access larger, multilateral funding. This limits the success of loss and damage interventions.

Loss and damage responses are time- dependent, and if finance cannot be mobilised quickly enough and at the right scale for the right interventions, then responses will fail. Some participants considered that delivering funding for non-economic loss and damage and in response to slow-onset events is more complicated than for high profile sudden onset impacts. Non-economic loss and damage, which encompasses elements such as mental health and culture, is speculated to be potentially more harmful to vulnerable people and communities than economic loss and damage.

The need for comprehensive approaches to deliver interventions that directly address loss and damage, means that effective mechanisms need to be established for aggregating and allocating finance and for planning and coordinating action at national and local levels. It is likely that to perform these functions some form of national system, mechanism, framework, network or institution is needed. These could take the form of a National Platform for Loss and Damage, similar to and in some cases linked with, the National Platforms for DRR that have been established in some countries under the Sendai Framework.[29]

Decentralised delivery of loss and damage finance through local government annual budgets can guarantee that finance is more readily available at the local level when shocks occur – the reach-up and draw-down function. Decentralised funds can also ensure that investments are more appropriate to local conditions, that funds flow more effectively to local people’s priorities, and are spent more efficiently because local decision makers are more accountable to affected populations. Devolved climate finance systems, such as Kenya’s County Climate Change Funds (CCCF), could be adjusted to deliver action to address loss and damage. Similarly, the Start Network’s model for delivering pooled risk finance to the local level in support of anticipatory action and rapid responses to climate related disasters via networked NGOs, offers another promising approach that could be scaled up globally.

Box IV: Devolved Climate Finance in Kenya: Lessons for Loss and Damage Finance Delivery

The Ministry of the Development of Northern Kenya and the Arid Lands explored how devolved governance (initially districts and then counties) could improve the effectiveness of annual development planning by addressing increasing climate variability and building climate resilience at the community level. This was done through the ADA Consortium.[30] Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 that included a devolved system of government that gave new levels of authority to counties. The ADA Consortium worked with some new counties in the arid areas to establish County Climate Change Funds (CCCF). These channel climate finance directly to vulnerable communities to address local needs. CCCF functions through a nested system in which finance flows from the national government, through county governments, to communities. Kenya’s CCCF increased the flow of funds for local-level climate action, made more funds available for institutional strengthening, further integrated climate action with long-term development at county and community levels, increased public participation in public decision-making, and increased community-level resilience to climate shocks.

Some countries have very significant loss and damage finance needs but are unable to access bilateral finance due to the risk perceptions of finance providers. For example, countries that are considered fragile or unstable due to conflict may not be considered trusted intermediaries for the transfer of finance for loss and damage responses. Such countries may also have significant areas that are not under central government control where bilateral finance delivery is not feasible.

In such cases innovative financial delivery mechanisms need to be explored. These might include financial flow technologies that allow funds to be transferred directly to affected households or communities, or to local NGOs, such as through secure electronic cash transfers. The humanitarian sector has learned a lot over two decades on how to deliver cash effectively to disaster affected households in situations of emergency, which could be utilised to address loss and damage more effectively.[31]

Disaster risk finance and social protection systems offer potential delivery mechanisms that can be used to mobilise interventions rapidly in response to early warnings of impending shocks, or once a climate shock has occurred. Delivering interventions in a timely manner to reduce the amount of loss and damage that occurs requires the use of effective triggers to mobilise and deliver finance at the right time.[32] In other contexts rainfall levels or temperatures could also be used to trigger the deployment of various types of finance to address the impacts of floods and heatwaves.

Locally-led interventions have an important role in addressing loss and damage. Local communities in disaster-prone areas often have a long history of coping with extreme weather. Historically, flooding is a common occurrence in Bangladesh and people have developed mechanisms to cope with such extreme weather.[33] These mechanisms and local knowledge are increasingly relevant now that anthropogenic climate change is making disasters worse. Communities are encouraged to inform and to join in decisions on the planning of interventions. Successful interventions are those which listen to affected people and integrate local solutions. Context matters, and communities are the key to addressing loss and damage effectively. However, local populations can lack capacity and resources. Communities must be supported with technical and financial assistance that enables them to participate meaningfully in planning and implementation. Increasing local capacity enhances the effectiveness of responses.

Case studies and stories are powerful tools to show local experiences. Narrative-based approaches can bring human elements into technical discussions. This can show decision- makers what is happening on the ground and thus stimulate both finance flows and action. As presented to Conference in a case study, Ruta del Clima have used local testimonies from people in places affected by losses and damages to show how these impacts affect daily life and intersect with other factors that determine vulnerability.[34]

Addressing loss and damage also means addressing injustices relating to resource access and control including land rights. The governance of land ownership is important in fairly asserting proof of tenure after, for example, loss of land or land degradation. Securing land rights also means that communities feel confident in investing in long-term solutions to climate impacts.

Box V. Loss and damage and land rights, Sri Lanka, Oxfam.

Oxfam conducted research on climate-induced loss and damage to land and its impact on land rights of local communities in Sri Lanka, to understand what role land rights play in improving climate resilience and minimising loss and damage. Sri Lanka faces high climate vulnerability and frequently face droughts, floods and landslides and was ranked 2nd in the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index. This poses a serious threat to the livelihoods of households on the margins of the poverty line, with significant impact on their land rights. The research had a national focus with case studies from risk-prone areas.

The research was designed to understand the different ways climate-induced loss and damage to land manifests, their impact on access to land by local communities and the role secure land tenure plays in minimising loss and damage to land and other assets, and their ability to cope with and recover from loss and damage. It also examined the extent to which secure land tenure impacts the ability of communities who suffered loss and damage to access government redress mechanisms, compensation, and other benefits. Gendered implications of loss and damage to land and its impact on women’s access to land and women’s land rights were considered as patriarchal social norms and gender discriminatory legal and administrative practices place women at a disadvantageous position. Case studies focused on areas of high climate vulnerability including smallholder farmers and urban slum dwellers who are most vulnerable to natural disasters.



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