There is a significant gap between existing and projected emissions and the level of emissions that would confine global warming to a 2°C – let alone a 1.5°C – increase. Countries and societies are increasingly preparing adaptation strategies and implementing a range of activities to facilitate adaptation. However, at the existing pace it is unlikely that current levels of adaptation will allow societies to transition smoothly to a changing world. The frequency and intensity of weather-related hazards is expected to grow, along with the long-term adverse impacts of weather-related risks. In many cases this could exceed adaptation thresholds of individuals, communities and countries.
Existing mitigation commitments and actions are not enough to prevent dangerous climate change related impacts. Therefore, residual loss and damage, the climate change impacts that we are unable to prevent through mitigation and adaptation efforts, will be a defining part of the future response to climate change. Like adaptation 15 years ago, loss and damage is an emerging field and an increasingly relevant topic for the international community given current levels of mitigation and adaptation coupled with future climate change projections. Thus any approach to loss and damage – particularly at the international level – must seek to increase international commitment to mitigation and adaptation, the parameters that influence the extent of residual loss and damage.
The Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative was initiated by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and motivated by the need to understand more about this emerging issue. In order to move forward the debate on loss and damage for the benefit of the least developed countries (LDCs) and other vulnerable countries, the GoB requested assistance from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) to help building a common understanding around loss and damage and provide insight into what it entails for vulnerable countries. CDKN has appointed a consortium of organizations, which includes Germanwatch, United Nations University-Institute for Environmental and Human Security (UNU-EHS), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) to carry out this work.
The overall strategic vision of the Initiative is to frame the debate of loss and damage to alter the way in which decision makers and stakeholders perceive problems and solutions related to climate change. This paradigm shift will help build momentum for the international mitigation and adaptation response towards 2015 when it is hoped that a legally binding agreement will be reached. The activities of the UNFCCC Work Programme on Loss and Damage will also be a significant guiding element for the work of the consortium.
The Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative is comprised of four activity areas, the activities of which are based on a three stage approach.
1. Building a common understanding of loss and damage
To build a common understanding of what is and what is not currently known about loss and damage, the consortium is working with a wide range of stakeholders to identify the drivers of loss and damage as well as gaps in the research. Through attendance at UNFCCC expert meetings and negotiations, the consortium is gathering questions from Parties and observers and engaging in research to provide answers.
2. Building momentum and commitment to act on loss and damage
With a foundation of common understanding, the consortium will support LDCs and other Parties in a process of co-creating ideas to address loss and damage. A series of activities will be undertaken to help LDCs generate and test approaches to address loss and damage. The consortium will also foster LDC expertise by supporting attendance at regional workshops organized by the UNFCCC under the Work Programme on Loss and Damage.
3. Assisting LDCs and other Parties articulate views on the next steps for loss and damage
The consortium will help LDCs and other Parties prepare for effective negotiations on loss and damage at COP-18 and beyond. A comprehensive analysis of the discourse on loss and damage and the range of activities undertaken throughout the year will be provided to LDCs and other Parties to help clarify the scope of the debate and possible ways forward. The consortium will also help LDCs and other Parties develop submissions on loss and damage to the UNFCCC. These submissions may explore what implementation options would look like in a decision on loss and damage at COP-18.