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Loss and Damage is increasingly becoming a crucial issue for Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as evidenced by the creation of its work program under the Cancun Adaptation Framework in 2010, the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM) in 2013, and the achievement of a separate article in the Paris Agreement 2015.

The 4th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report, which stated that mitigation and adaptation were not enough, has also helped these decisions. The WIM also came about the fact that countries most vulnerable to climate change cannot reverse the tragic impact and losses experienced.

The fact that mitigation and adaptation alone cannot pacify the onslaught of impacts is without doubt due to the deserted responsibility at the local and international level.

This year, at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Morocco, loss and damage negotiations has mainly been procedural as they have focused on the Report of the Executive Committee to the WIM and the WIM review.

These negotiations were completed on November 14 with two decision texts as the outcome under joint SBI/SBSTA agenda items.

Despite being a part of the negotiations since before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established, more evidence and research on the losses and damages from climate change impacts faced by many countries are needed to determine the strategic measures to define international modalities that reverberate the necessary actions and implementations.

The COP 22 and its negotiations processes are unfortunately acting on a lighter noted and abstract notion of the threats, as witnessed here in Marrakech. It is upon the developed countries to negate their often rhetoric and continued time-outs within the meetings agendas.

In a pre-emptive move, they are once again downplaying the scientific evidence to stall and build false hopes within the negotiations process.

It is difficult to believe that developed countries are on the bandwagon to stifle the negotiations. Lives of the other billion people are at risk from the increasing impacts of climate change, especially the irreversible impacts.

Such intentions must not be the entertained. The urgency expressed by the vulnerable regions is to be respected for the continued mutual respect and trust to be kept alive.

At a recent press conference, the President of Kiribati, an atoll nation, H.E. Taneti Mamau stated, that the urgency of the impacts of climate change on his people has been downplayed by the negotiations development so far.

What can the developing countries do in the meantime? At the government level, countries will need to determine their policy goals that answer the ideas of preventing losses and damages rather than coping.

This pro-active attitude will enhance the narrowing of the gap for in-country ability to cope with climate change impacts.

Legal mechanisms will need to focus on realistic measures that focus on what is lost, why it is lost and how it is lost. It will be upon these drivers of change to steer the overall objections of the loss and damage issue to provide more detailed support.

Negotiators are pushing for the need to put a human face on the policy. Putting the people-centred approach in policy making will incentivise the common goal of developing countries where the adaptation abilities may be beyond reach.

Displacement and relocations due to climate change present a new level of concern for loss and damage. The non-economic impacts, which present challenges to quantifying, include losses of culture, pride, identity, and sovereignty.

This is more pronounced as internal displacements due to climate change are expected to increase for small island developing states.


Rokotamana Vitinaqailevu

About Rokotamana Vitinaqailevu

Rokotamana has been an ardent environmentalist since graduating with a BSc and enjoys the outdoors. After witnessing climate change impacts in his country, Fiji, he is hoping to take his fight to another level through research, writing and other opportunities yet to be explored.