Climate Champions galvanise ‘Action After Impacts’ to address climate losses and damages

Projected impacts and related losses and damages are set to intensify with every fraction of a degree, meaning action to address this must dramatically accelerate. The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions aim to play an instrumental part in this process. By Climate Champions | June 28, 2022

COP26 elevated the issue of losses and damages, but it remains a controversial issue not least given different views on liability and compensation. With the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, countries urged “non-governmental organisations and private sources, to provide enhanced and additional support for activities addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.”

While there is no substitute for action by States on Loss and Damage, including finance, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions are committed to unlocking how we, alongside the Marrakech Partnership, can meaningfully progress action among non-State actors to address the actual climate losses and damages communities are experiencing.

People, businesses, cities and regions are already taking action to prevent, minimize and repair climate losses and damages, but nowhere near to the scale required. This is why the role for the Champions is to galvanize transformative action aimed at supporting the most climate vulnerable urban, rural, and coastal communities.

But to help scale-up new and existing efforts we first need to understand the challenge. That’s why, in May, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, alongside front-line voices, held open discussions, with three objectives:

  • To share best practices and challenges on how non-State actors can advance and scale-up action to address climate losses and damages;
  • To discover how to elevate and amplify what non-State actors are already doing to address climate losses and damages in all forms;
  • To identify how we can meaningfully advance this agenda with non-State actors to address losses and damages of climate change.

Some 110 participants, from 25 countries, participated in the sessions, showcasing non-State actions under themes of: Finance and risk; Slow onset changes; Immediate action; Social, cultural and biodiversity losses (non-economic losses).

While it was clear that action with commensurate investment must be scaled up, the workshops opened a window on the wealth of actions non-State actors are already taking after impacts. Examples highlighted included building and deploying models for food and cash transfers; supporting rebuilding communities and cultural preservation; and expanding access to insurance and finance

Dharam Uprety of Practical Action explained how Index-based insurance triggers automatic payments passed certain thresholds to benefit people in Nepal. We also heard how the private sector is supporting sovereign risk transfer (through the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility CCRIF) to enable countries to get financial resources to people when they need it after losses and damage from extreme events.

These examples – along with many more — provided evidence of actions and the scaled investments needed to help build momentum and drive an ambition loop with States, and complement what Parties are discussing on losses and damages.

Our May Workshops were the first step in our work to address the issue. At a Bonn Climate Conference event, hosted by the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, non-State actors, in the presence of front-line voices, discussed their role in escalating action to address climate losses and damages.

Participating in the event, Vanessa Nakate, said: “As the climate crisis escalates people are losing their lives, people are losing their livelihoods, people are losing their cultures — so there is really a need to put the people on the agenda.”

The challenge, according to Loss & Damage expert Professor Saleemul Huq, is how to help impacted communities he said. “And if we are not able to help them, then what are we doing? We are not doing anything. So the test of anything that all of us do collectively, whether we are in the UNFCCC process with state actors or non-State actors… we need to be thinking of ways to reach them and support them,” he said.

Professor Huq spoke ahead of a video address from Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland. In her address she said: “We saw that at COP26 – where Scotland’s commitment on loss and damage was supplemented by a commitments from Wallonia, and a number of philanthropies. This event is a very welcome opportunity to consider what more non-state actors and non-party governments can do ahead of COP27 – to show leadership, build momentum and develop the evidence base for further action.”

Following Bonn, we plan to convene more events to find out the actions non-State actors are taking and examine how to take these to scale. This will be done during the Regional Climate Weeks, at New York Climate Week and of course of COP27, and at the Resilience Hub – which will continue to grow since its success at COP26.

This year, we will also be publishing the feedback we have received from our May workshops alongside further information on the actions non-State actors are taking to address losses and damages to help build the momentum for increased action by States and non-State actors.

While all of us are at risk of suffering losses and damages from climate change, it is poorer nations, made more vulnerable by geopolitics and their economic condition, that have a significantly reduced ability to withstand these devastating impacts.

The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, with our campaigns Race to Zero and Race to Resilience are quickly clearing the path to a decarbonized and resilient world. But we acknowledge that even this world will be imperfect if it is not bound by equity and justice – built on a foundation that puts losses and damages at its core.


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