New Developments on Loss & Damage

On June 12, 2013, ICCCAD in collaboration with Germanwatch held a workshop to disseminate research findings from the Loss and Damage in Bangladesh project. Titled ‘Loss and Damage in Bangladesh: A review of Challenges and Opportunities from Climbing a learning Curve to Understand Loss and Damage at the National level’, the workshop took place at the Gustav-Stresemann-Institut, Bonn (Germany) during the second week of the thirty-eighth session of the UNFCCC’s Subsidiary Body for Implementation and was well attended, with participants from several country delegations, academia, and NGO’s.
Dr Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Mr Sven Harmeling, International Climate Policy Team Leader at Germanwatch welcomed the participants and commented on the successful work that the Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative (a consortium of ICCCAD, Germanwatch, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative and United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security supported by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)) has carried out over the last 15 months.
Presentations were given by the Bangladeshi researchers, who have undertaken work on loss and damage in the national context of Bangladesh. The first case study presentation was given by Mr Md Golam Rabbani, a Fellow with the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies  (BCAS) on ‘Evidence of Loss and Damage on the Ground: Key Findings of a Case Study of Four Villages in Coastal Bangladesh’. His study analysed the interactions of salinity intrusion and rice production and what policies can decrease loss and damage from the adverse impacts of climate change in Bangladesh.
Subsequently, Professor Ainun Nishat, Vice Chancellor of BRAC University presented ‘Key Findings from a Study on Approaches to Address Loss and Damage’. The study undertaken by BRAC University was aimed at understanding what approaches to address loss and damage are currently being implemented in Bangladesh and what the gaps and needs are for addressing impacts from both extreme events and slow onset processes. These measures and the policy environment are to some extent well established in Bangladesh; however, they each have gaps and needs, especially related to implementation, and financial and human capacity. The presentation concluded with recommendations to develop a comprehensive risk management portfolio for Bangladesh based on scientific understanding of the climate risks of loss and damage.
A presentation from Professor Mizan R. Khan, North-South University, on his study on ‘Assessing Microinsurance as a Tool to Address Loss and Damage’ followed. Key findings from assessing the microinsurance landscape in Bangladesh included the fact that due to multiple socio-economic, cultural, and institutional barriers very few livelihoods-related insurance products exist yet and huge insurance demands remained unanswered. The policy regime in Bangladesh needs to be clarified, education activities to reduce insurance illiteracy should be put in place as well as subsidising insurance premiums for the poor either directly or through livelihood support programmes, public sector support for public private partnerships (PPPs) and piloting index-based crop insurance schemes.

Mr Md Hafijul Islam Khan, Executive Director of the Centre for Climate Justice-Bangladesh gave a presentation on ‘Key Findings from Research to Investigate the Legal and Institutional Context for Addressing Loss and Damage in Bangladesh’. The study explored the potential regulatory frameworks to address loss and damage in Bangladesh. By developing national policies and legal norms without waiting for agreed outcomes from the UNFCCC, governments of the most vulnerable countries like Bangladesh can begin to protect their own citizens. This bottom up approach could influence the UNFCCC process to develop international and regional institutional frameworks. Mr Khan concluded by recommending that a dedicated fund to provide compensation and remedial measures to those that incur loss and damage should be established at the national level, which could be linked with future international and regional institutional arrangements.
Next, Dr Munjurul Hannan Khan, a Visiting Scholar at the University of Manitoba spoke on ‘Loss and Damage as an Opportunity for DRR and CCA Integration’. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) already share many aims and methodologies and their integration will become especially important with future residual loss and damage, which will need to be addressed with a variety of approaches. Thus, any loss and damage policy and institutional framework should take an integrated approach by bridging the still existing divides in DRR and CCA policies and measures. In Bangladesh, where well established – but separate – institutional frameworks deal with DRR and CCA, a comprehensive assessment of current and future vulnerabilities and a detailed analysis of barriers inhibiting communication or cooperation between the two groups are needed.
Finally, Dr Huq initiated a last round of discussion by commenting on the meaning of the Doha decision on loss and damage and his expectations for loss and damage negotiations at the upcoming COP 19 in Warsaw later this year. He stated that he would like to see a decision on a Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage and is hopeful that it could be achieved under the leadership of the Polish co-presidency.   

Written by: Anna Hasemann, Visiting Researcher, ICCCAD August Newsletter 2013