Loss and Damage in Bonn (sort of)

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 7.23.56 AMThe 44th meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SBs) and the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), held in Bonn, Germany, May 16-26, were full of action. Our delegation report-back started earlier this week, here and here. Key work areas receiving consideration included, for example: preparation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement; adaptation planning and action (and the Adaptation Fund); capacity building in developing countries; gender and climate policy; and market and non-market mechanisms to incentivize mitigation action.

Yet, Loss and damage (L&D), what many consider the third pillar of the climate regime, 131206_loss_and_damagegot little attention in Bonn. A few observers noted they expected more than two posters and one side event on the work of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM), given the upcoming COP22 review of progress on the WIM Executive Committee (Excom) 2-year (2015-2016) workplan, and L&D now being the subject of a separate article in the Paris Agreement. Some also expressed confusion about a special event for observer delegation input on “issues related to the Warsaw International Mechanism in the lead up to and beyond COP22,” convened by the COP21 and COP22 Presidencies on May 24 (we’ll speak to this in an upcoming post).

The reason for the limited attention is that the WIM, created at COP19 to address L&D, functions under and reports to the COP independently, rather than being part of the work of the SBSTA and SBI. Additionally, though Article 8 of the Paris Agreement is devoted to the WIM, the Paris decision gave no additional instructions to the Excom for 2016 that might have tied it to the SB44. The Excom is heavily engaged in its 2-year workplan (2015-2016) through 3 meetings in 2016 (January, April, September). You can follow the work, including calls for submissions via the Excom meetings site.

The WIM L&D side event, Shining the light on non-economic losses: challenges, risks and lessons learned for addressing them, was well-crafted and well-attended. (The robust presentation can be accessed from the Side Event list, by scrolling down to the May 18 event and clicking on the “Presentations” link.) Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 7.20.03 AMNon-economic losses, the focus of Action Area 4 of the 2-year workplan, are losses for which a monetary value cannot be readily assigned, for which there is no market price. As defined by the UNFCCC technical paper, these are losses of “life, health, displacement and human mobility, territory, cultural heritage, indigenous/local knowledge, biodiversity and ecosystem services.” These can be, of course, the greatest and worst losses of all. The side event’s key objectives were to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding of the nature and extent of non-economic losses;
  • Put a spotlight on some of the challenges and risks that non-economic losses pose to developing countries;
  • Highlight some of the lessons learned associated with addressing non-economic losses, including how to integrate measures to reduce the risk of non-economic losses in comprehensive approaches to address loss and damage.

An upcoming post on L&D from Bonn will cover the special event for observer input on the WIM, and a couple of exciting unofficial side events addressing the limits to adaptation and progress on climate litigation. Also stay tuned for more info on the WIM Excom.