Loss and Damage: Tackling climate change-induced risks

flood waters overtake a house in Thailand form above view

All scenarios for mitigation and adaptation have one aspect in common: They all share the view that the impacts of climate change come with unavoidable risks of loss and damages. This is where the concept of "Loss and Damage" (L&D) steps in. adelphi is actively supporting the further development of the L&D concept and is conducting comprehensive L&D assessments.

The concept of "Loss and Damage" is far from new. On the contrary: it was initially proposed in the early 1990s by Vanuatu on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Many years later, at the 2007 Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP13), countries included the concept of addressing L&D associated with climate change impacts in the "Bali Action Plan". Since then, increasing attention has been paid to the subject with incremental progress at different COPs. Finally, in 2013, the "Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM)" to address L&D associated with the adverse impacts of climate change has been established. Following the approval of the WIM’s initial 2-year work plan at COP 20 in Lima and the set-up of its Executive Committee, the first meeting of the Committee took place in September 2015 in Bonn, Germany.

Results at COP21 are crucial for the future of the concept of L&D

Even if the WIM is only to be reviewed at COP22 in November 2016, this year’s COP21 in Paris does have major implications for the topic of Loss & Damage. The new climate agreement has set the direction for future climate action and how the two existing pillars of mitigation and adaptation are pursued. An overarching question that needs to be answered in this context is how the concept of L&D relates to these two topics. Grounded in the Cancun Adaptation Framework, L&D so far has been treated mostly as a part of climate change adaptation. Whilst most developed countries consider the WIM to be sufficient for bringing the subject forward, the developing countries expect it to be treated as a separate concept, on equal terms with mitigation and adaptation.

Against this background, adelphi supports institutions in involved development cooperation as well as developing countries at various stages of the advancement of the concept and its adaptation to country specific contexts.

1. Shaping the concept of L&D

Despite the ongoing discussions, no unanimous definition for Loss and Damage has yet been agreed upon. Also, there is no standardized methodology for assessing L&D and the approaches for dealing with L&D need to be further developed. adelphi is therefore supporting Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in the development of a conceptual approach on L&D.

» Developing a discussion paper on Losses and Damages caused by climate change

2. Country and sector-specific analyses

To date the experiences of identifying and assessing L&D at national and sub-national level are still limited. Hence adelphi undertook a scoping mission with and for GIZ related to L&D in the Pacific Islands. In addition, adelphi together with local experts conducted a rapid L&D assessment in selected Indian states for GIZ.

» Loss and Damage analysis for selected Pacific Islands

» Developing a study on climate-related Losses and Damages in India

3. Learning from disaster risk management and climate change adaptation

Climate change related L&D can be avoided through global mitigation efforts. Furthermore, it is possible to reduce L&D through climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) as a part of disaster risk management (DRM). To date, there is already a series of well-known and tested vulnerability and risk analysis methods, risk reduction tools, CCA measures and disaster relief mechanisms that can be used for the analysis and the development of  specific instruments for addressing future L&D. adelphi has been working over 10 years in the field of DRM and CCA in different contexts. For example, adelphi actively supports the set-up of disaster prevention and early warning systems in Burundi, Guatemala and Madagascar. In addition to that, adelphi has implemented more than 70 adaptation measures.

» Setting up Burundi's early warning system for climate risks

» Climate change adaptation in India (AdaptCap)

4. Finding solutions to deal with residual L&D

Next to reducing current barriers and extending the current practice of CCA/DRM, finding new solutions that address residual L&D is crucial. Risk sharing and risk transfer could be one option, amongst others. In this context, adelphi is currently supporting the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and GIZ in an appraisal mission for elaborating the German contribution to the G7 Initiative "InsuResilience".

Selected Publications