Climate loss and damage: practical action

The report is a synthesis of different views and analyses of practical action for addressing climate loss and damage. It considers mobilising and innovative finance, assessing needs and delivering actions.

3 Practical Lessons to Determine Needs and Deliver Actions

Learning lessons from early initiatives to address loss and damage and from the related sectors of disaster risk management, humanitarian response and climate adaptation will speed up effective design of actions to address loss and damage. Lessons are drawn in this section from a set of case studies on determining loss and damage needs and on interventions.

3.1 Determining needs

The costs and harm caused by loss and damage are too often borne by the individuals, households, groups and enterprises who suffer the impacts. In the vast majority of cases they do so without assistance. These people need urgent external support, whether to cope with and recover from disasters, to build resilience to new environmental conditions, or to move out of harm's way. However, there are significant gaps in our collective understanding of who requires what types of support, where they are located, and how and when that support should be delivered.

The assessment of loss and damage needs can face a variety of challenges. Measuring the range and extent of loss and damage can be complicated. It is challenging to estimate the value of non-economic loss and damage as well as those economic and non-economic losses and damages caused by slow onset impacts. Affected populations do not always recognise loss and damage caused by climate change. While climate change may be an ultimate cause of a shock, local people affected may identify more proximate causes as being more significant. There is a disparity between the lived experience of people already facing loss and damage and the information and data that is held by governments, civil society organisations and finance providers,[59] and such methodologies need to connect these data sources. Historical data is important to determine the levels and types of impact that climate change has already had on vulnerable households, marginalised groups, exposed ecosystems, infrastructure and services (see case study 9). Projections of the risks that climate change will have in the future over the short, medium and long-term, including the impact of consecutive and compounding shocks, can be assessed from climate scenarios and locally specific information on exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity and vulnerability.

The case studies included in this sub-section include: Institutionalising national disaster loss databases from UNDP, Assessing Needs Connected to Loss and Damage in Malawi, SCIAF; Life amid Loss and Damage: Central American Narratives, Ruta del Clima.

3.1.1 National Databases

Many Least Developed Countries do not have the technical capacity to generate or to analyse climate data to assess projected loss and damage risks.[60] It is urgent that support is provided to build capacity for climate risk analysis and loss and damage needs assessments. For example, UNDP and Milliman are collaborating on a programme whereby US$2 million per year to 2025 of pro bono services is being provided to build developing country governments' capacity in analytical techniques of risk management.[28]

Case study 9: Experiences and challenges from institutionalising national disaster loss databases – United Nations Development Programme

An initiative to establish national disaster databases has been supported by UNDP since the late 1990s in more than 35 countries around the world. A typical national disaster database aims to record all past disasters of climatic origin disaggregated at sub-district levels and includes impacts on populations and key sectors (transport, agriculture, environment, and others). The goal has been to build national capacities for collecting data on occurrences and impacts of disaster events and to analyse the data for policy, planning and decision-making. These databases are in the public domain and are managed by national governments.

Typically, the in-country initiative is led by the national disaster management agency in consultation with several key stakeholders (departments of statistics, transport, environment, and others). Collectively they agree on data collection formats. Information on past and current disaster events of climatic origin is collected from national and sub-national levels. This includes gender, age, and disability disaggregated data. The availability of historical data in different countries varies from 10 years to as much as 30 years, but the quality and credibility reduces over time. Technical training for managing the system is provided to key stakeholders while the work is implemented by UNDP. At the end of the establishment phase and before handing over to the government, an analytical report is prepared and shared with a wider group of stakeholders.

National ownership and capacity are crucial to institutionalise the data management and to use the data for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, while open access policies increase the value of the databases for public good.

Some countries have been managing online disaster databases for as much as 10 years following initial support from UNDP. A nationally owned system, fully managed by the government, is in place in Indonesia[61] and Cambodia.[62] Both national governments have been managing the systems for several years and the databases have both national language and English language interfaces.

Governments use the analysed data to understand the disaggregated spatial and temporal impacts of pasts events on populations and key sectors of the economy. Governments are also using the data as part of monitoring indicators of national disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation plans and activities under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Challenges encountered are: lack of uniformity in hazard characterisation and loss attribution (sudden and slow onset) of both economic and non-economic losses; lack of standardisation in primary data collection in terms of hazard event characteristics and associated losses; lack of compatibility and standardisation between primary loss data obtained from assessments and the data fields in national databases.

The work by UNDP on national disaster risk databases shows that countries often lack the capacity to record the data that is needed to assess needs in terms of impacts and/or risks. More regular and systematic primary data collection and reporting of hazard events, including physical loss and damage, and economic loss is necessary. The agencies involved in establishing national disaster databases consider that medium-term support is needed for greater institutionalisation of data registration at country level. Universal adoption of an internationally accepted, standardised coding systems to allow unique event identification would also be helpful.

3.1.2 Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Analysis (PCVA)

There are tried and tested assessment approaches that can be built upon for loss and damage needs assessment e.g. Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Participatory Capacity and Vulnerability Analysis (PCVA). PCVA[63], and other vulnerability assessment approaches, can be helpful in identifying causes of harm and vulnerability, choose ways to reduce particular risks, and minimise negative social or ecological outcomes.[64] These methods emphasise locally held knowledge on context, social structures and (informal) institutions relevant to addressing loss and damage.

Humanitarian and development agencies use the PDNA methodology to determine the physical damages, economic losses, and costs of meeting recovery needs after a natural disaster through a government-led process.[65] The PDNA methodology is very flexible and has been used widely in different types of crises including those arising from natural hazards (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts), pandemics (Ebola, Covid), social unrest (Ecuador after the indigenous protests) etc. Covid assessments have been made using PDNA in different countries of Latin America, in Eastern Europe and across Africa. PDNA includes ways to understand the social and human impacts – short, intermediate and long-term consequences – of disasters. Aligned to the PDNA is the Human Impact Assessment (HIA) methodology[66] which has been developed over the last five years. This examines five key compounded indicators: living conditions, gender equality, food security, social inclusion and livelihoods.

The following SCIAF case study presents new findings from current work in Malawi.

Case study 10: Assessing Needs Connected to Loss and Damage in Malawi – SCIAF

This project aims to address both economic and non-economic losses and damages resulting from Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe which hit Malawi in January and March 2022. A community-led needs assessment is being undertaken to understand specifically how these extreme weather events impacted households in Nsanje and Zomba districts.

The PCVA has been adapted to assess losses and damages. The assessment is guided by the Post Event Review Capacity (PERC) manual.[67]

Once the communities were selected and permission from District Government received, PCVA was used to determine what losses and damages had occurred and to whom. Women and girls were engaged using methods such as female-only forums, to determine how loss and damage events disrupt service provision to them, including health, education and social protection.

A PCVA approach was used to understand better the losses and damages and to identify measures to address them. The PCVA included a basket of assessment tools – see Table 2.

Table 2 Tools used in loss and damage needs assessment in Malawi
Tool Objective/Purpose
Stakeholder mapping To Identify all key interested parties (i.e. influencers, those who may feel positive or negative about the project, who will be impacted, who might support the implementation of the project etc.).
Access and control of resources To identify which groups of people have access to key resources, and which groups control the use of various resources.
Historical trends and timeline of events To understand the history of the Community. To identify key events and trends throughout history of the Community or Village—either positive or negative. To discuss the effects of key events in history.
Seasonal calendar Exercise to identify and discuss seasonal events and activities (cropping, livestock, migration, income, expenditure). The tool looks at the seasonal labour from a gendered perspective to gain an understanding of gender dynamics and workloads.
Resource and hazard mapping A Resource Map is prepared by the community to provide an understanding of which places and resources are used for what purposes in their locality, and to then identify the hazards and which areas and resources are the most affected.
Hazard and Risk analysis, Risk Quadrant, Hazard Assessment matrix Hazards affecting the community are mapped and ranked, and displayed in a Risk Quadrant or Matrix to understand risk in terms of impact and probability. The analysis of hazards is linked to understanding what was lost and damaged with each hazard.
Key Informant Interview To collect sector specific information, and expert opinion to help form a more comprehensive understanding of the risks in the targeted communities.

Some of the main types of losses and damages that were revealed by the assessment included houses collapsing, damage to dykes, public health disease outbreaks, damage to crop fields, injuries and death of people, loss of livestock, destruction of bridges, and damage to toilets and water points.

Community participation is built in across the stages of the project, and interventions have been co-designed with the community, as outlined below:

i. Participatory activities with the communities to co-design interventions to address the losses and damages that have been experienced.

ii. Evaluation of the programmes impact from loss and damage perspective, articulation of how to measure loss and damage and predicted impact on reduction of future risks.

iii. A long-term participatory resilience assessment will be developed to explore the impact of the interventions on reducing vulnerability and addressing experiences losses and damages.

iv. Knowledge, reflection, learning and experience from the programme is widely disseminated to inform the global discourse on action to address loss and damage.

In response to the losses and damages experienced in the districts, not just in 2022 but over a series of years and to droughts as well as floods, local people identified the following response measures: tree planting; removing sand from rivers; road maintenance; introduce irrigated crop farming; construction of dykes; disaster early warning provision; moving homes to uplands less prone to floods; swale construction for channelling storm water; making compost and using manure on crop lands; awareness campaigns on the effects of deforestation; introduction of drought-resistant crops; building stronger houses; and, construct of evacuation centres – storm shelters. This work shows that in assessing needs for addressing loss and damage, consultation at the local level is necessary both to understand what is lost and damaged and what measures are best to address them.

The SCIAF case study shows how varied are the needs of different people even in the same location, the importance of local peoples' perspectives in identifying how to address needs, and therefore the importance of bottom-up approaches to needs assessment.

Taking a community-led participatory approach centres the voices and opinions of those affected to articulate how addressing loss and damage can fill gaps for communities on the front-line of climate impacts. Key challenges are articulating and addressing non-economic loss and damage and relating these to other more tangible measures to address economic loss and damage. Shared learning in this space with global communities of practice is important.

3.1.3 Assessment of needs using testimonies from local communities

In recent years, Central America has experienced a continuous cycle of extreme weather events that have particularly affected those whose livelihoods are climate sensitive, notably farmers and fisherfolk. Their testimonies demonstrate that there are significant community-level implications with regard to loss and damage.

The issues raised in this case study on non-economic loss and damage are explored in greater detail in Section 4.

Case study 11: Life amid Loss and Damage: Central American Narratives – Ruta del Clima

Central America is highly affected by climate impacts. La Ruta del Clima, supported by Oxfam, has been promoting efforts to generate research findings from across the region. Communities and key actors from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador participated in this research including indigenous people, smallholders, fisherfolk, and people from rural, urban, peri-urban areas. All participants had experienced climate-induced loss and damage in the last decade. A variety of ecosystems, lifestyles, and socio-productive activities were explored. Likewise, age and gender diversity, particularly women and young people, as well as historically excluded groups, were also included.

For the people interviewed, it is clear that climate change does not occur in a vacuum. The testimonies reflect that climate change interacts with other elements of daily life, such as social relations and human decisions related to non-economic loss and damage. All the communities visited mentioned other stress factors exacerbated by climate change.

A rich territorial perspective was encountered as was a very careful and detailed understanding of their communities.

Even so, certain unsustainable adaptation measures may be adopted. Families are investing more and more to meet their basic needs, which often intensifies their socioeconomic and environmental vulnerability.

The research process highlighted the low level of engagement with communities by government, or their complete absence while evidencing the preponderance of humanitarian agencies and local organisations. These agencies frequently respond to emergencies and they are developing adaptative capacities in the communities while addressing urgent needs for food, decent housing, and a healthy environment.

The research also found that the closure of democratic spaces in all countries and the occurrence of economic conflicts between communities and extractive enterprises can exacerbate vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. These conflicts endanger the lives of environmental human rights activists across Central America and make it even more pressing to take comprehensive measures to guarantee climate justice and human rights.

This exploratory research demonstrates the possibility to identify the needs and political demands of communities in the Central American region in relation to loss and damage. Furthermore, that social research and community participation are key to addressing loss and damage.

The Ruta del Clima case study reminds us that despite the escalation in extreme weather events and the disproportionate impacts on people less able to fully recover from previous events, there is often too little engagement with affected communities by government. Humanitarian agencies and local organisations attempt fill this void. This is made worse where democratic spaces are scarce and economic conflicts drive wedges between stakeholders. These factors operate against determining or even recognising loss and damage needs. Climate justice will be better served by opening and widening social dialogue and learning processes that includes the determination of loss and damage needs.

3.1.4 Forecasting future needs to facilitate actions to minimise and address loss and damage

To model floods and droughts and their likely impacts on cities across the world to 2050 is as ambitious as it is necessary. Determining needs to address loss and damage in pre-emptive ways that can be incorporated into city development merges evidence-based adaptive management with climate disaster preparedness, as described in the following case study. The fact that city authorities have been prepared to use this foresight evidence in planning water management protocols and infrastructure protection investments demonstrates the value of the evidence generated to decision makers.

Case study 12: Strengthening water and resilience in cities – the way forward, C40 Cities

The objective of the Water Safe Cities (WSC) work is to reach a more complete and holistic understanding of water scarcity and excess, and to support cities in developing and implementing strategies for handling these issues. It is important to convince city mayors to act by providing evidence of need and demonstrating the costs cities will have to bear for water resources management.

Phase I of WSC combined research, technical assistance working with cities, and direct interaction and knowledge sharing between cities through the water security network. The research was done in partnership with Climate Adaption Services and the Institute of Environmental Studies. Using data from global climate models fed into hydrological models, future hydrological processes including runoff, streamflow, riverbank overflows, and groundwater recharge were analysed for C40 Cities. This allowed the estimation of riverine and coastal flooding and water losses that each C40 city will experience by 2050. A similar process was used to analyse water shortages and drought also to 2050. Infrastructure maps were used to calculate the cost of urban damage in flooded zones. This evidence was used to support cities to develop and implement strategies for water management.

This is the first research to calculate risk of flooding and drought for C40 cities to 2050. Calculation of population exposure risk and projections of costs of urban damage and loss of productivity due to riverine and coastal flooding were conducted. The numbers of hospitals and healthcare facilities, as well as energy generation facilities, that face flooding by 2050, were estimated.

Technical assistance was provided to Buenos Aires to develop and plan for a de-paving strategy and green infrastructure strategy to absorb runoff from stormwater flooding. Johannesburg has developed first steps toward organising and coordinating an integrated water management strategy. Finally, Istanbul developed a strategy to manage the water losses and leakages.

Some key lessons from the project are:

  • Latin American cities face some of the highest increases of riverine flooding and several West African cities face severe agricultural drought.
  • Urban damage from riverine flooding will more than double by 2050, to an estimated U$D 64bn per year.
  • It will cost C40 cities an estimate U$D 111bn every year to replace the water lost from surface sources (rivers, lakes and reservoirs).
  • Over 300 power stations across C40 cities are at risk of being flooded by 2050. More than half of the power stations affected are located in US cities.
  • As many as 2,400 hospitals and healthcare facilities in C40 cities could be flooded by 2050, with nearly half of them in India.
  • City mayors need to act now to protect the vital services serving billions of urban dwellers, and to plan robust emergency response protocols for floods and droughts.
  • Water governance is not restricted to within a city's borders. Coordination will be key between city decision makers, and regional and national governments.

3.1.5 Discussion

The context-sensitive aspect of loss and damage makes it difficult to standardise methodology across diverse contexts. Attribution of loss and damage to climate change is a limitation in existing assessment models, especially in places where climate change and conflict coincide.

The assessment of needs can face a variety of challenges – from identifying what types of loss and damage have occurred, to understanding the gendered and intersectional aspects of vulnerability, to identifying priorities for action within the given resource envelope available. Measuring the range and extent of loss and damage can be complicated, particularly in estimating the value of non-economic and slow onset forms. While climate change may be an ultimate cause of a shock, people affected may identify more proximate causes as being more significant, and this can influence how response measures are designed and adopted.

Basing policy intervention on local consultation, research and evidence can help mitigate these challenges. Articulating ground-level reality to policymakers will help them understand the challenges so as to better inform national policies and practices.

3.2 Delivering actions

Delivering interventions to address loss and damage is complex. In any one location people will be affected differently by the same hazard and may require a variety of supports to recover and build resilience for the next shock. Furthermore, as climate shocks increase in frequency and severity, and extreme weather events interact with slow onset processes, the associated risks will compound one upon another with devastating results. This will require a ratcheting-up of interventions over time. Low probability but highly destructive 'fat-tail' climate events are becoming more common and need to be planned for and responded to effectively.

The case studies presented were chosen to illustrate key learning on the delivery of measures to address losses and damages across different settings and resulting from different climate impacts. They include: Clarifying loss and damage legal pathways through an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion, Government of the Republic of Vanuatu; Devolved climate finance in Kenya: lessons for loss and damage finance delivery, NDMA & IIED; Integrating climate-related loss and damage into territorial planning, Gossas, Senegal; Anticipatory actions to at-risk communities, WFP; Redirecting Involuntary Migration, Helvetas; and, The L&D Youth Grant-making Council.

3.2.1 An enabling legal framework for addressing loss and damage

The lack of clarity on the legal obligations of all States to prevent and redress the adverse effects of climate change was identified first by students in the Pacific region. This was then taken up by Vanuatu and allied states,[68] which are seekingan advisory opinion (AO) by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to strengthen the resolve in international climate negotiations and encourage higher ambition for addressing loss and damage by clarifying legal principles to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.

Case study 13: Clarifying loss and damage legal pathways through an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion – Government of the Republic of Vanuatu

Through a vote in the UN General Assembly, Vanuatu is seeking an advisory opinion (AO) on climate change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This would provide an authoritative statement of what international law requires in the context of climate change.

The initiative to seek an ICJ AO on climate change was originally conceived by Pacific youth[69] who were later joined by a global network of youth advocates for climate justice. In September 2021, recognising the urgency of the climate crisis for the Pacific, and responding to this youth-led grassroots movement, Vanuatu formally launched the campaign to seek an ICJ AO. Together with a core group of supportive countries from every major region, Vanuatu is working collaboratively to distil the text of the resolution and question. At the time of writing this report, the draft had been shared with core member states and feedback from other UN member states had been received. A further updated resolution text has been released. There may be further updates before the member states vote in March (date to be confirmed). This UN process ensures that all states will have a say in the formulation of the resolution and question.

An ICJ AO on climate change could help to address loss and damage in at least two ways. First, by stating authoritatively what international law requires, an ICJ AO would help reduce ambiguities and overcome stagnation in international negotiations, including with respect to politically fraught topics such as loss and damage. Second, ICJ advisory opinions are very influential and have been regularly cited in national, regional and international case-law. An ICJ AO on climate change could help to clarify general principles relevant to climate change cases. Uncertainty around the appropriate legal principles to apply has been a major stumbling block for climate litigation to date. Clarification from the ICJ would help to overcome this barrier and facilitate climate litigation efforts that seek to hold major emitters responsible for climate-related loss and damage.

This Small Island Developing States (SIDS)‑led diplomatic strategy helps to ensure that the question posed to the ICJ represents the needs of the most vulnerable and maintains a strong climate justice orientation. A challenge is that the ICJ renders an underwhelming or unhelpful opinion, so the question has been carefully drafted in consultation with leading international legal experts to maximise the likelihood of a progressive opinion. This risk can be further mitigated during the advisory proceedings through the submissions of States and other organisations.

Success depends upon broad political support. The resolution needs to achieve the requisite number of votes in the UN General Assembly and find acceptance by the ICJ. Concerted diplomatic efforts have been focused upon building solidarity and support among nations. Alongside this, public awareness and campaigning around the initiative are important to foster political will.

By clarifying the legal obligations of all States to prevent and redress the adverse effects of climate change, an ICJ AO would advance climate justice at the international level by strengthening international climate negotiations and encouraging higher ambition action, and at the regional, national, and sub-national level by clarifying legal principles central to climate litigation efforts.

A complementary legal initiative is that by COSIS (the Commission of Small Island States for Climate Change and International Law) who likewise intend to request an Advisory Opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, on the specific obligations of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ('UNCLOS') to prevent, protect and preserve the marine environment from climate change impacts.[70]

With regards to establishing the moral and legal basis for mobilising finance for loss and damage, Chile and Colombia have recently requested an AO on climate change and human rights from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

While the ICJ and other advisory opinions are not legally binding they are significantly persuasive, and could influence on the outcomes of climate-related litigation. Depending on the claimants and the basis of the claim, these outcomes could in turn have financial implications. The AO may not help leverage finance from major emitters directly, but it would send a moral signal that will be hard to ignore.

3.2.2 Enabling Environment for Loss and Damage Interventions

Case study 14 describes how Kenya has established a Devolved Climate Finance (DCF) mechanism to address climate vulnerability and build climate resilience at the community level, especially in Counties at high risk of climate shocks in the country's Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs). This provides a useful model for delivering loss and damage interventions through devolved government structures.

Case study 14: Devolved Climate Finance: Lessons for Loss and Damage Finance Delivery – Kenya, NDMA and IIED

Kenya is highly exposed to climate shocks, and El Nino-related droughts and floods, which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change. To address the impacts of climate change, and to support locally led climate adaptation, the Kenyan government has established a system of County Climate Change Funds (CCCF) to deliver reliable climate finance directly to climate vulnerable communities, for the implementation of contextually relevant and locally led investments.

The CCCF aims to channel climate finance directly to the community level to address local needs, but it functions through a nested system in which finance flows from the national government's Treasury Department, through County governments, down to climate vulnerable communities.

In 2010 Kenya adopted a new Constitution which created a devolved system of government that gave new levels of authority to Counties. This prompted the government's Ministry for the Development of Northern Kenya and the Arid Lands to explore how the devolved system could be used to address climate change more effectively. The Ministry invited IIED and a consortium of local and international non-governmental partners to develop a DCF mechanism using a whole of society approach, based upon the principles of community participation and subsidiarity in decision making.

The consortium was governed by a political steering group that included the Minister and Permanent Secretary, and by a technical working group that included both government and non-government members.

The DCF mechanism was designed with the involvement of county government officials and local NGOs who represented community members. Once established, the CCCF are implemented on the basis of a community led approach, where climate risks, investment decisions and the allocation of finance are informed by community priorities. This has resulted in a significant increase in the flows of funds for climate action at the local level. It has also provided a significant increase in the amount of finance available for institutional strengthening across local governments.

The CCCF have also incentivised institutional strengthening by county governments as they cannot access climate finance unless they meet the minimum standards required by the fund. There is much better integration of climate action with long-term development at county and community levels and a significant increase in public participation in public decision making increasing the levels of trust between citizens and the state. County development plans are now informed by community level assessments of climate risks, and by community climate adaptation plans.

Counties that have piloted the CCCF have reported improvements in community level resilience to climate shocks. This has resulted from the investment of climate finance into local assets, especially strategically placed water resource investments. These have improved reliable access to water for households and livestock, reducing drought vulnerability and increasing resilience during drought periods, with particular benefits for women.

The DCF initiative deliberately set out to address the ways that droughts effectively derailed local development in arid areas of Kenya by taking funds away from economic and social development that county governments planned and using them as contingencies for drought response. This approach offers a valuable example of how climate finance can be delivered on the basis of participatory risk assessments to support communities to prepare for, cope with and recover from climate impacts.

Delivering bottom-up participatory approach to planning, budgeting and decision making is time consuming and costly. It requires a significant investment of time and money in soft processes that many donors are not willing to support over the long term. The DCF approach requires a long-term financial commitment either from the government or from international finance providers to enable countries to move beyond pilots and to institutionalise delivery mechanisms. The World Bank has provided credit funding to the Kenyan Government to out-scale the DCF model to further counties. In the longer term, the DCF approach requires national governments to gain access to climate finance at scale. This demands that the GCF and other climate finance providers improve access to finance, especially for LDCs, by improving the efficacy of enhanced direct access modalities. The Kenyan model for CCCF and DCF is being adapted in pilots in Tanzania, Mali and Senegal.

The DCF approach depends heavily on the ability to devolve decision-making authority to the local level. In Kenya this was facilitated by the adoption of a devolved system of government which availed a significant portion of the national budget to local administrations and gave them the mandate to develop legislation. Addressing climate risks effectively depends upon the establishment of strong institutional systems, which requires an iterative approach to testing and solving problems – this is messy and takes a long time.

Case study 15: Integrating climate-related loss and damage into territorial planning – Conseil départemental de Gossas, Sénégal

Losses and damages induced by climate change are evident in the department of Gossas, Sénégal. Drought, strong winds, heat waves and salinization of water sources have imposed losses and damage on agricultural and pastoral communities. Faced with these impacts, the Departmental Council has integrated loss and damage into territorial planning, using tools such as vulnerability matrices and multi-criteria analyses.

The decision to integrate the loss and damage into territorial planning was taken by the Departmental Council which is made up of 40 members, including 20 women. Women's participation in the plan has been crucial as they are the most vulnerable to loss and damage and it should be priority to support actions on their behalf – by and for women. The role and situation of young people have also been important as they are the drivers of the paradigm shift towards a better integration of loss and damage into development planning. Action research is being carried out to better understand the loss and damage caused by climate change.

A climate change governance framework that brings together all institutional and non-state actors has been put in place. Demonstration projects are being implemented that contribute to the management of loss and damage through territorial development planning.

  • The plan of how to address loss and damage included the reforestation of the Malka forest with the establishment of an experimental perimeter of 10 hectares to reconstitute lost plant species.
  • Improved cook-stoves were distributed to women to reduce use of scarce wood and to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions from old stoves.
  • Training and support for community resilience has also been carried out.
  • The adaptive capacities of populations are being strengthened by communication and training for behaviour change.
  • Access to climate finance is a challenge. Financial support is needed to be able to address the loss and damage suffered by the ecosystems and vulnerable communities of Gossas.

Similar to the CCCF case study from Kenya, the territorial planning by the Conseil départemental de Gossas, Sénégal, seeks to integrate measures to address climate risks and impacts (and thereby loss and damage) into local development plans and programmes. This type of technical, administrative and political decision-making process agreed with social, economic, political and technical actors for sustainable land-use and management of natural resources is more common in francophone African countries and Latin America (where it is referred to as 'ordenamientoterritorial'). While previously territorial planning has encompassed issues related to low carbon production systems; urban development; watershed and rangeland development; forest conservation; and, water resources management. The pressing need now is to accommodate the loss and damage needs of climate vulnerable populations and this will force the issue onto the territorial planning agenda. The experience of theConseil départemental de Gossas is very interesting as a pioneer of what many local authorities will need to take up.

Figure 2: A continuum of measures to avert, minimise and address loss and damage [71]

A continuum of measures to avert, minimise and address loss and damage is presented in Figure 2. These measures include disaster preparedness and response measures delivered before and immediately after a shock, along with recovery, rehabilitation and post-shock resilience building. These measures intersect with development and humanitarian activities and need to be complemented by long-term adaptive measures to address cumulative risks.

The continuum demonstrates how averting loss and damage is achieved through climate mitigation measures to reduce GHGs. It also shows that adaptation action can be used to minimise the impacts of climate hazards that cause loss and damage. Finally, the continuum indicates that addressing loss and damage involves delivering measures to manage residual risks (those not averted through mitigation, and not adapted to) including transfer of financial risks, livelihood support and asset protection; and, measures to address the impacts of extreme and slow onset events including humanitarian response, rehabilitation, relocation, transforming livelihoods and social protection. Under this framing climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction fall outwith what is considered to be addressing loss and damage.

3.2.3 Social Protection

In Pakistan following the recent floods the Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Security, Shazia Marri, stated that adaptive social protection strategies would be further enhanced there. As elsewhere, Pakistan has the opportunity to integrate shock responsive elements into existing social protection systems – namely the very large Benazir Income Support Programme. In Mozambique, in order to better address the range of impacts from flooding and cyclones the Government is bringing together the national disasters management agency (Instituto Nacional de Gestão de Calamidades, INGC), the Ministry responsible for delivering social protection and local authorities to deliver sequenced measures that seek to protect the poorest people (those eligible for social protection) from what are in effect climate losses and damages.[72]

Case study 16: Anticipatory action plans (AAPs) against drought for at-risk communities in the Somali region of Ethiopia – WFP

This programme helps to avert and minimise loss and damage by reducing the impact of drought on food security and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations through scaled-up anticipatory actions. The project forecasts and triggers for anticipatory action plans (AAPs) against drought. The AAPs serve to bolster national and international response capacities before and during drought shocks, and to reduce the overall impact, recovery time and costs associated with responding to drought impacts on agriculture and food security. The activities aim to strengthen the government's capacities to support planning and decision-making at both national and sub-national levels for anticipatory action and better management of climate risks.

To mitigate the impacts of predictable hazards like droughts, WFP is supporting the government in the Somali region of Ethiopia to develop forecasts and early warning alerts that trigger AAPs before droughts occur.

Implementation is coordinated by the Somali Region Disaster Risk Management Bureau, supported by the National Meteorological Authority and Mercy Corps. The Somali Micro-Finance Institute is the financial service provider. The anticipatory actions targeted the beneficiaries of the SIIPE project in Somali Region (see case study 6). The households were selected using the following criteria:

i) pastoralists/agro-pastoralists that were participating in the government's productive safety net programme; ii) owned five to 11 livestock units; and were iii) members of female-headed households.

In 2021, ahead a of predicted drought, WFP and partners triggered the AAP in two districts of the Somali region, Dollo Ado and Bokolomayo, between May and July. This included dissemination of early warning information to 10,000 households and provision of cash transfers to 2,925 households.

To measure impact, a quasi-experimental design approach was deployed. The comparison group is a counterfactual of what would have been the outcomes if the anticipatory actions had not been implemented. A mixed research design using quantitative and qualitative information was utilised to document the impacts of the two anticipatory actions. Findings were then triangulated through discussions with stakeholders, focus group discussion and in an after-action workshop. The results suggest that the provision of early warning messages and cash transfers complemented each other and were effective at averting and minimising climate-induced losses and damages by preventing the worst impacts of forecast drought during the March-April-May rainy season in 2021.

The anticipatory actions to at-risk communities approach developed by WFP seeks to strengthen local to national systems in drought‑affected largely pastoral areas. This approach operates in concert with social protection measures that are also relevant to addressing loss and damage. Support for the sustainability of anticipatory action systems is being maintained by WFP in close collaboration and through capacity strengthening of national governments. Support includes the development of drought early warning systems. To scale-up the implementation of anticipatory action programmes, it is necessary to draw on flexible, coordinated, predictable and pre-arranged financing for anticipatory actions and early warning systems, as well as for capacity‑strengthening efforts and technical support. This would improve locally led efforts and related evidence generation.

3.2.4 Addressing loss and damage for climate displaced communities

The Peninsular Principles[73] on climate displacement within states centre the idea that, "processes caused or exacerbated by climate change have and will continue to contribute to displacement of populations resulting in the erosion of the rights of those affected, in particular vulnerable and marginalised groups, the loss of assets, housing, land, property and livelihoods, and the further loss of cultural, customary and/or spiritual identity." In doing so the Peninsular Principles, adopted in Kiribati a decade ago, recognise that "voluntary and involuntary relocation often result in the violation of human rights, impoverishment, social fragmentation and other negative consequences, and recognising the imperative to avoid such outcomes." While this comprehensive framework (founded upon principles of international law, human rights obligations and good practice) respects the rights of climate displaced people, being a normative framework it does not directly address non-economic losses and damages nor the curative or other measures necessary to address them, more details on which can be found in Section 4.

Case study 17: Redirecting involuntary migration by adopting alternative skills to counter loss and damage, Bangladesh – Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

Extreme weather events and climatic trends bring adverse repercussions. In Bangladesh these include saline intrusion, prolonged flood periods and tidal surge in the southwest coastal belt. These climate impacts reduce agricultural yields, cause loss of habitat, and lead to involuntary relocations by affected people. Local inhabitants are shifting into other informal sectors away from traditional farming. They often do not have the technical knowledge necessary and many return from the big cities empty-handed.

The project facilitated access to alternative livelihood options for people facing loss of livelihoods due to climate induced migration, through apprenticeships and technical skills development in order to gain better access to the local job market. The intervention also aimed to inform people's decision-making with regard to internal migration.

The intervention was targeted at potential climate migrants in Khulna and Bagerhat areas and was developed in consultation with local partners, climate vulnerable communities, and the Helvetas team.

Context analysis was conducted and included the identification of victims of climatic loss and damage (loss of livelihood, home, life, etc.) and potential climate migrants (prioritising youth and women). Options for informal jobs are limited and income is minimal in the project regions. The mapping of local employers and creating connections with the labour market should be considered when repeating this intervention in other regions. Training options relevant for the local job market were explored. The traineeship is for three months and involves a mentor and mentee. Dedicated time and concentration from both mentee and mentor are required to build a successful formal relationship. Before the scheme, men quite often left their wives alone at home while they sought better jobs in cities. Those left behind were often in less safe circumstances both socially and financially. The skills development work can negate the economic imperative to migrate as well as reducing the gendered impacts by offering women opportunities to develop skills alongside men. To date around 40 people have started the training. To monitor progress, a database has been initiated and periodical follow-up is done.

Identifying avoidable loss and damage and supporting adaptation strategies aimed at reducing climate migration is context-specific, but this approach on skills training is transferable and replicable.

The loss of traditional livelihoods has impacted many aspects of life for vulnerable communities including simply employment. There is now the need for new skills acquisition, innovations in livelihood activities and new jobs. The apprenticeship intervention by Helvetas is a small contribution but it is based upon sensitive needs assessment.

Addressing loss and damage in these coastal regions of Bangladesh where destructive storm surges are on the increase is difficult. Determining loss and damage needs in such places demonstrates the demand for transformative response measures that can reduce exposure and increase adaptive capacity of the people affected.

Case study 18: The Loss and Damage Youth Grant-making Council

Young people are often excluded or marginalised from decision making processes in the climate arena even though they constitute the majority of global population and will be most affected by the impacts of the climate crisis.

To close the gap of youth-led climate finance in addressing loss and damage and to provide an opportunity for youth to engage in how loss and damage funding should be allocated, the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition and the Climate Justice Resilience Fund with funding from the Scottish Government, created a participatory youth board to award 11 loss and damage grants and to shift power in decision making processes toward youth representatives.

The Loss and Damage Youth Grant-making Council is made up of 11 youth leaders from global south countries with experience in grassroots action, policy advocacy and project implementation related to loss and damage. The board was mandated with developing the application guidelines and determining criteria for awarding grants under the guidance of the CJRF. They also led on developing a call for applications, reviewing applications, selecting grantees and disbursing the funds.

The council developed an open call for youth organisations to apply for ten small grants and one large grant. Eligible activities included addressing loss and damage in different contexts such as restoration of houses and infrastructure, relocating affected communities and addressing loss of cultural heritage, community knowledge, and natural heritage. A total of 245 applications were received (83 large grant applications, 162 small grant applications). The winners of the grants were announced and the council is in the process of disbursing the funds.[74]

So far, the grant-making council have identified the following lessons:

  • Young people require financial support to implement solutions on the ground that could have a long-term impact.
  • The 245 applications received reflected gender imbalances as most of the initiatives proposed were led by men. The grant-making council should develop particular efforts to fund and address women's engagement and leadership with more direct support to women-led initiatives.
  • Advocacy for youth to have an important role in decision-making is needed. Funders and donors supporting ways to address loss and damage should include youth in the process as they are impacted the most yet have been largely excluded.
  • The concept of loss and damage is broad and therefore, there is not a universal definition for everyone to adopt on what projects or actions address loss and damage. On one hand, this provides the opportunity to have pluralism in the initiatives and approaches, but from another side stakeholders can lose focus on what an action for loss and damage is and confuse it with other purposes.
  • English could be a barrier for applications from some regions. Although the grant-making council prepared the guidelines for call for applications in different languages such as English, Swahili and Spanish, more needs to be done to increase applications from people of other languages and from regions where English literacy is low.

This radical example of delegated grant-making to youth representatives of the Loss and Damage Youth Grant-making Council is a signpost for the near-term future of ways to address loss and damage. This pioneering initiative will be of interest to many funding agencies and organisations that act as channels for climate finance.

3.2.5 Discussion

The growing number of dedicated loss and damage interventions offer several useful precedents from which to draw useful strategies and tactics. Delivery requires consistent and continuous investment as escalating climate impacts drive increasing exposure to loss and damage. Lessons in channelling finance to locally defined and locally led measures have been learned in other areas of climate action[75] and humanitarian response, and can be incorporated into loss and damage interventions.

Synergies between the different ways of addressing loss and damage need to be explored through implementation processes that are designed to optimise synchrony across these elements. Oversight by accountable public bodies will be required. Learning so far shows that sub-national authorities, where governance and decision making is accountable to citizens and where strong public finance management capacity exists, are well placed to coordinate the design and delivery of loss and damage interventions. Where there is alignment of policy and purpose, collaboration between governmental and non-governmental organisations is preferable.

The case studies discussed in Section 2 and here in Section 3 show that different approaches to address loss and damage are evolving. Part of that evolution is about learning what makes approaches effective and Table 3 shows an assessment of this. The elements of approach identified in the table are those used to structure Sections 2 and 3 of this report, plus monitoring, evaluation and learning, and achieving long term resilience. Accountability and feedback loops, Access, and Equality, inclusion and diversity are those attributes that make approaches effective. The sub-cells of Table 3 describe how those attributes are achieved in each element of approach.

Table 3 Ways to achieve key attributes across different components of loss and damage
Accountability and
feedback loops
Access Equality, inclusion
and diversity
  • NDCs to demonstrate needs
  • L&D recognised and analysed in GST
  • Untied grants
  • Solidarity funds
  • Untied grants available to grassroots organisations
  • NDCs to demonstrate needs
  • Ease of reach-up and draw-down a priority
  • Representative, inclusive and diverse local organisations priority for access
  • Equity in processes to draw down finance
Assessing needs
  • The results of needs assessments should be owned by the people with the needs
  • Participative tools
  • Recognition of full range of
    non-economic loss and damage
  • Full recognition of social diversity and differentiated needs
  • Delivery partners accountable to those facing the losses and damages
  • Participative budgeting and rendering of accounts
  • Local and community level
  • Community owned and locally led
  • Skills development, livelihoods and enterprise development
  • Recovery & rehabilitation supported
  • Curative measures available
  • Inclusive approaches to recovery, rehabilitation, etc.
  • Gender transformative approaches to addressing L&D
evaluation & learning (MEL)
  • Crowd-sourced data & information on implementation and outcomes
  • Rating of delivery from people in localities upwards to funders
  • Build on existing indicators
  • Accessible and co-developed criteria
  • MEL co-developed by local people, civil society
  • Gender and intersectionality oriented MEL
Achieving long term resilience
  • Climate impacts causing L&D and outcomes of addressing L&D recognised and analysed in GST
  • L&D factored into SDG achievement analysis
  • Outcome to impact level assessments
  • Social learning integrated into MEL cycles
  • Assessment and learning from evaluations organised as an inclusive social learning process



Back to top