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Loss & Damage

on August 16, 2012

AOSIS’s Loss and Damage proposal received heightened attention at the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn last June, but the concept of having an international mechanism to insure vulnerable communities against loss and damage when mitigation and adaptation efforts fail can be traced to the earliest days of the UN climate negotiations.

Unfortunately the new focus follows logically from the failure to make progress on either mitigation or adaptation.

In other words, as the impacts climate change continue to mount – damaging property and reducing revenue from activities such as commercial fishing and tourism — the need for a system capable of compensating victims for the associated costs is not going away.

At COP17 in Durban, negotiators reached consensus on elements of the SBI Work Program on Loss and Damage from COP17 to COP18 (2012).

Decision 2/CP.17 (UNFCCC 2011) requests the SBI to continue the implementation of the work programme on approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and to make recommendations on loss and damage to the Conference of the Parties for its consideration at its eighteenth session.

It called on stakeholders and experts to share the outcomes, lessons learned, and good practice related to the implementation of existing risk assessment and risk management approaches.

The AOSIS plan confronts the  challenges of climate change, and the lack of traditional insurance options for many communities in our membership, by proposing an international mechanism that consists of three main components.

First, it would establish a system to help vulnerable countries identify their particular risks and develop disaster management and risk reduction strategies.

The second element would be similar to insurance programs found throughout the developed world, but adapted for the unique circumstances presented by climate change and the absence of insurance in many small islands where it is cost prohibitive.

By pooling vulnerable communities together into a single system, would make payouts more predictable and affordable.

Third, the plan aims to create an international solidarity fund in order to compensate communities for damage caused by slow onset climate events, such as ocean acidification and sea level rise, which not only stand to cost millions in lost revenue and property, but may require the complete relocation of coastal communities.

With storms and floods becoming more frequent and intense, and slow onset emergencies projected to exceed previous forecasts, the Loss and Damage proposal must necessarily feature in our outreach with partners at the UNFCCC meetings and elsewhere.

The AOSIS proposal can be found here.

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