Climate Talks, Loss & Damage

The faith in today’s youth is not nearly Lost & Damaged

This article is written by Viktor Jósa.

CliMates participating in the 7th meeting of the Executive Committee on Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts.

The concept of « Loss and Damage » is possibly older than your younger sibling. If you were born in the 1990’s, you grew up in the warmest decade ever recorded. If you’re in your teens, almost every year of your life has been one of the hottest years ever recorded[1] – Loss & Damage is the concept of of addressing climate change impacts, negative effects of climate variability and climate change that people have not been able to cope with or adapt to.

In the climate negotiations the concept was initially proposed in the early 1990s by Vanuatu on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States. A lot later in 2007 at COP13 the concept of addressing Loss & Damage was included in the « Bali Action Plan ».

It only happened in 2013 that the « Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) » to address Loss & Damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change has been established, which was followed by WIM’s initial 2-year work plan at COP20 in Lima and the creation of the Executive Committee.

I’m lost! – L&D doesn’t have much progress – What’s this committee doing?

The Executive Committee is tasked with guiding the implementation of the functions of the WIM – Enhancing knowledge and understanding, strengthening dialogue, coordination, coherence and synergies, as well as enhancing action and support.

Bonn, James Bonn gave soil for the 7th meeting of the Executive Committee at the UNFCCC premises in Germany between 13th and16th March 2018 for a Clim’ful[2] mission.

The heaviest and most urging task in the discussion agenda of the meeting was the Suva Expert Dialogue, which was decided at COP23 to convene experts to discuss and deliver useful insights and advice on how developing countries can cope with loss & damage. To be held during the 2018 Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB48) in April-May 2018 it will provide an important space to raise awareness about the vulnerability of Small Island States and it will explore options for mobilising expertise, technology and support for climate victims.

One who’s familiar with the process of Loss & Damage, which is moving at a snail’s pace, while human induced climate change is already causing losses might think – What should be the expected outcomes of the Suva expert dialogue? or How can this dialogue best deliver on the COP mandate? 

Committee members have expressed how they see the Suva Expert Dialogue as an opportunity to go beyond the cycle of the ExCom. The ExCom has demonstrated their agreement on creating a real dialogue as opposed to some session in the past, which is a two-way communication and serves the values of the talanoa – story-telling and active listening. A key focus of the Suva Dialogue is linking actions with finance and to develop and produce a framework of actions. According to the ExCom the outcome should look at the issues around sources of financial support.

The aim is to net let the Suva Expert Dialogue become limited or too focused, which resembles the tradition of the retro UNFCCC process. On the contrary, to keep it broad and bringing together lot of different expertise and mix finance experts with non-profits and the scientific community.

COP23 was also meant to have this broad perspective on facilitating globalization.

Impacts of climate change include slow onset events* and extreme weather events which may both result in loss and damage. Economic losses can be understood as the loss of resources, goods and services that are commonly traded in markets. Non-economic losses can be understood as the remainder of items that are not commonly traded in markets.

 

Observers relate

There was a strong representation of observers and a diverse distribution between constituencies present at the 7th ExCom meeting on Loss & Damage. At this meeting there were only two slots reserved for closed sessions, where observers are not participating – this reduced number of closed sessions will hopefully will lead to no closed sessions at all in ExCom meetings in the future.

In fact, YOUNGO has received this year more accreditations to technical UNFCCC sessions, which is hopefully also becoming a tendency.

During the L&D ExCom there were plenty of opportunities for YOUNGO to deliver interventions and the youth representatives have kept the focus on accessibility and empowerment of the least privileged.

When issues were addressed regarding the design of information channels for the ExCom’s work YOUNGO had plenty of suggestions, which got surprisingly big attention by the Secretariat and the ExCom, including the observers.

Many could relate to our approach to create user-friendly and barrier-free information and communication products on Loss & Damage and the exact suggestions of the youth representatives were noted by the Secretariat’s employees who are working on these issues.

Furthermore it was emphasized that the ExCom seeks to identify relevant mechanisms under the convention and encourages the Secretariat to identify and engage potential partners. CliMates used this opportunity to draw attention on Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) and it’s six elements, namely education, training, public access to information, public awareness, public participation and international cooperation.

Given the relevance of the overarching issues between the aim of ACE and capacity building around Loss & Damage the youth input was echoed by committee members, who are designated ACE National Focal Points for their countries.

 

CliMates representative Viktor Jósa giving an intervention on Action for Climate Empowerment during the joint TEC-L&D ExCom session.

 

Shared faith in Technology

The Secretariat was always known for their skills in capacity-building – no surprise that the 16th meeting of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) took place on the same days as the L&D ExCom. Participants have witnessed a historical initiative by the L&D ExCom to collaborate with the TEC in the form, but not limited to a joint policy brief on the area of technologies for coastal zones. The value addition of a joint policy brief will shine light on the technologies that exist today for risk assessment and management tools for coastal retreat, such as beach profiling, that can be used and afforded by developing countries. With the aim to use technologies, such as risk management tools for monitoring coastal land loss and community-based early warning systems.

The two committees have defined an ambitious timeframe to make progress on this collaboration by COP24.

The coinciding committees also served for the youth representatives to engage in view of the upcoming SB48 and the ACE Youth Forum. Furthermore, youthful jokes were cracked and laughs were shared with other ExCom participants.

A snapshot of the buzzing Executive Committee meeting, with the two male co-chairs on the left and the actively networking observers in the back.

About the author: Viktor Jósa fulfills the role of Empowerment co-director within the board of CliMates. His familiarity lies in the negotiation arena, therefore his favorite engagement is COP in MyCity. Viktor is actively participating in the processes around Action for Climate Empowerment and he sees it as the best platform for youth to engage in the UN Climate Change process. Furthermore, he is involved through WHO consultancy in research in the European health adaptation to climate change. Being a native Hungarian he enjoys outdoor activities, such as skiing and biking.

[1] Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo of Trolltunga, Norway. Instagram, photographed by the The YEARS Project, 17 Mar. 2018, https://www.instagram.com/p/BgXVYdBnUQB/
[2] Expression used by CliMates to describe feelings and idioms associated with love and care for the climate. The Clim’ can be applied to any word or expression with added value of it’s meaning.

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