SCF, Meet Loss and Damage

financeThe Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and damage (L&D) is going on a somewhat surprising date this year with the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF). The job of the SCF is to assist the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) in conducting its climate finance functions. The job of the WIM is to enhance action and support to address loss and damage in developing countries particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. (We’ve covered the WIM and L&D extensively, e.g., here, here and here.)

The reason this ‘date’ is interesting is that nowhere in any COP decisions is the SCF directly instructed to engage the issue of L&D or pursue a close relationship with the WIM. Climate finance language is strictly aimed at mitigation, adaptation, and building capacity and enabling environments for those. Yet, sometime in mid-2016, the SCF will hold its annual Forum Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.38.12 PMdesigned to advance communication and information exchange as well as linkages. And, this forum’s topic will be: “Financial instruments that address the risks of loss and damage.”

It is true that, at COP19, Parties asked the SCF to “further enhance its linkages with the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the thematic bodies of the Convention.” It is also true that, at COP21, Parties decided to endorse the SCF’s 2016-2017 workplan, which included this year’s Forum. But the guardian may not realize what seriousness (mischief?) might come of this liaison between two of its wards.

The WIM’s Executive Committee actually made the first move at SCF’s 11th meeting in October 2015, requesting the ‘date’ based on an aspect of its 2-year workplan approved by COP20. And, while the WIM might not have looked like the SCF’s type, there apparently was enough chemistry for a quick “Yes.” Earlier this month, at the SCF’s 12th meeting, the 20 Committee members reviewed input from multiple stakeholders and got the plans rolling.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.33.26 PM

What makes this kind of engagement between the SCF and the WIM important, is that, even though the Paris Agreement includes a distinct article on L&D (quite a significant outcome), it contains no provision for financing efforts to address this critical climate change issue. Thus, the SCF giving its attention to L&D could be extremely influential.

One clear way this can happen beyond the exposure and focus of the forum, is through the 2016 Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows (BA), on which the SCF began work during its 12th meeting. The BA is a comprehensive compilation used to support the COP’s climate finance responsibilities. Not surprisingly, L&D received no attention in the 2014 edition. ba_titleIt most certainly will in the 2016 BA, with the Forum’s attention to this substantive issue.

Where Parties take it from there will tell a lot about the prospects for these two. Will the SCF and WIM really bond? Will they decide to go steady? Might there be a real future for L&D under the climate finance wing of the climate regime? Some are undoubtedly dreaming of wedded bliss!Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 8.13.32 PM