Open questions about how to address ‘loss and damage’ from climate change in the most vulnerable countries: a response to the Cancún Adaptation Framework


Extreme weather events represent the earliest, and in some places most significant, threats to the most vulnerable countries that are driven by climate change.

An outcome of the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancún was the decision to establish a work programme to consider approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in the most vulnerable countries, including the adverse impacts of extreme weather events. This represents a significant opportunity to consider in more detail the feasibility and design aspects of current proposals on loss and damage, and undertake activities to develop a menu of viable measures and practical implementation options to inform discussions at COP18 in 2012.

We conclude that there is already significant expertise and knowledge available on loss and damage that will form important inputs to these activities. However, there are also many open questions, particularly on approaches for operationalising a loss and damage mechanism.

We identify high priority open questions about the design, implementation and governance of such a mechanism.

We suggest that a valuable activity of the work programme would be to address such open questions with a view to informing recommendations by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) to COP18.

Nicola Ranger, Swenja Surminski and Nick Silver