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.
2. Background: Addressing Loss and Damage
Climate change-related shocks, such as those witnessed recently in Pakistan, are causing billions of dollars’ worth of economic losses and damages annually. They destroy infrastructure, housing, assets, factories and livelihoods, and disrupt local, regional and global supply chains with global repercussions. They are also causing untold levels of non-economic losses for people and nature, as thousands of lives are lost and millions of people are displaced or forced to migrate, as land and ecosystems are lost or become unproductive, as schools and health centres are damaged or closed, and as cultural heritage and social connections are destroyed in the upheaval following disaster.
There is an urgent need to act now to address the losses and damages that are occurring and which will only escalate with global heating. Actions must include supporting the effective and resilient recovery of communities and countries that have already borne the brunt of climate change, as well as ensuring that effective, timely and appropriate responses are delivered to help people cope when the next shock hits. It must also include actions to address the losses and damages that are unavoidable in the future, due to our collective failure either to mitigate climate change, or to deliver effective adaptation in time to save the most vulnerable people and places.
Climate loss and damage has been an issue of major concern for the most vulnerable developing countries for over thirty years, yet little has been done practically to tackle the rising tide of losses and damages that now impacts them. Three decades of climate negotiations have not yet seen the issue placed on the formal agenda of the COP, and the demands of the majority of Parties to the UNFCCC (G77+China) for a Loss and Damage financing facility to be established have not yet been met. Little in the way of earmarked finance has been released to address loss and damage, while the gaps between climate-related humanitarian needs and the finance available to meet them has only widened.
COP26 did not deliver what the majority of Parties had been hoping for in the form of a Loss and Damage finance facility, and the Glasgow Dialogue has also failed to deliver meaningful outcomes over the past year. No matter the outcome of the negotiations at COP27, it is unlikely to address the escalating needs of the most vulnerable communities and countries – the least developed countries (LDCs) and the alliance of small island states (AOSIS) – who are unequivocal in their call for action now to address the climate impacts they face on a daily basis which threaten to destroy households, communities, and nations as climate change escalates.
Over the past year, however, we have increasingly seen reason to hope that change is coming. Notably, at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland became the first developed country to acknowledge its moral responsibility to address Loss and Damage as an issue of climate justice, when First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged £2m of government finance to support practical action in some of the world’s most climate vulnerable countries. They were joined by the regional Government of Wallonia and a group of philanthropies, who also pledged funds to address Loss and Damage, and more recently by the Government of Denmark which has pledged 100 million Danish Kroner (US$ 13 million) to tackle loss and damage. It is hoped that other rich countries will follow suit at COP27.
The global narrative on Loss and Damage has also begun to shift, with increased levels of debate on what kinds of practical action can and should be taken to address Loss and Damage in the most vulnerable countries and how finance can be delivered to support that action, urgently, effectively and at scale. This has led a growing community of stakeholders to understand the need to act on loss and damage, including many who have not been historically engaged on the issue, including private corporations. This is reflected in the priority now being given by the HLCs to mobilising non-state actors to address loss and damage in the run up to COP27 in Egypt, and by the work of the HLCs and the GRP in convening debates on Loss and Damage at the COP’s Resilience Hub. The Scottish Government has also committed to continue its convening role on Loss and Damage, working in solidarity with the most vulnerable countries and their citizens, to mobilise finance and catalyse action to address loss and damage in practice.
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