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EVENT: Expert meeting on assessing the risk of loss and damage

by Kashmala Kakakhel, Project Manager at CDKN

Negotiators are finally shrugging off Post-Durban lethargy and gearing up for a first new round of talks of 2012. The subject is loss and damage and the city is Tokyo, Japan. The need for this meeting was suggested by Parties to the UNFCCC at CoP 17 in Durban, in December 2011.

The Parties in Durban unanimously requested the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to continue the implementation of the loss and damage work programme under the three thematic areas: i) assessing the risks, ii) exploring approaches and iii) role of the convention. The SBI invited not only the parties, but relevant intergovernmental organisations, regional centres and networks, the private sector, civil society and other stakeholders to consider undertaking activities aimed to increase understanding of the Parties to loss and damage.

An expert meeting on the first thematic area – Assessing the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and the current knowledge on the same – takes place from March 26-28, 2012 in Tokyo. The goal of thisexpert meeting is to draw on a range of expertise and experience (within andoutside the Convention) to prepare for and build a knowledge base for Parties’ discussion of the second thematic area, ‘exploring approaches’.

As natural disasters have become more frequent in recent years, it has become progressively more important for the international community to understand and reduce loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change: including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events.

How is loss and damage defined? Loss and damage is generally considered to be what happens when mitigation and adaptation have failed. The summary Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disaster to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), released by theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) further stresses that upgrading existing approaches will not be enough and more systemic transformations will be required.

One of the basic requirements for effective management and reduction of loss and damage is risk assessment, and a better understanding of exposure to loss and damage. In order to get meaningful input from all stakeholders, sessions such as the one planned in Tokyo this week promise to contribute towards convergence of opinion on some of the larger aspects of the debate and to take a more substantive and participatory position forward.

Government of Bangladesh and CDKN partner on loss and damage

CDKN became involved with loss and damage in the June 2011 intersessional meeting when SBI appointed Bangladesh as one of the co-chairs to progress negotiation on loss and damage (this followed the Cancun Agreement which committed Parties to establishing a Work Programme to consider approaches to loss and damage). Bangladesh along with other country parties, and the SBI, recognised that there is a serious lack of information on loss and damage, particularly among the LDCs. So, in the context of having a unified and agreed negotiating position, Bangladesh decided LDC parties should work together to develop their understanding on the issue and develop its Work Programme for submission to the SBI for consideration.

The Government of Bangladesh approached CDKN to develop a technical assistance initiative that will help the Bangladesh and other LDCs clarify their common position on loss and damage, create space to debate, and form recommendations for CoP18 in Qatar. It is also envisioned that by leading the formation of the LDC Group’s contribution on loss and damage, the Bangladeshi government will strengthen its capacity to develop an appropriate national policy on loss and damage.

The big questions this week

We have to now collectively look at the big questions around the issue: how do we quantify the problem, what form might a mechanism take, who is eligible, what is the interface with adaptation finance, and how do we cope with moral hazard? It will be interesting to observe how many such issues will be tabled at this first technical meeting on loss and damage, and whether participants can really start ‘cracking the code’ around this. If they are successful in contributing a critical mass of evidence towards a shared knowledge base on loss and damage, they will get the ball rolling for four regional workshops which are suggested to take place under the ‘exploring approaches’ thematic area of the SBI’s work programme.

Stay tuned for latest developments!


Image: Trying to Salvage a Damage Boat for Spare Parts, by uncultured

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