UNDRR: Loss and Damage Funds have been pledged; it is time to work

Jakarta – One of the successes of COP28 is establishing the Loss and Damage Fund on the first day of the conference. The fund is designed to provide financial support to countries that are most susceptible to and affected by the consequences of climate change.

Aside from the Loss and Damage Fund, there was progress on a new framework for adaptation action, and the selection of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as the hosts of the Santiago Network secretariat to “avert, minimise and address loss and damage” from the impacts of climate change.

Chief of the Risk Knowledge Branch at UNDRR, Loretta Hieber Girardet, said: “UNDRR has decades of experience in helping countries prevent disasters. Together combined (with UNOPS) we will be able to deliver for the countries in need. The good news is the funds have already been pledged. We are already providing this type of support, so it’s just a question of really starting the work”.

In a joint UNDRR and UNOPS statement as the decision was formally adopted, both organisations acknowledged: “There are high expectations for the Santiago network to quickly become fully operational, delivering tangible benefits at local, national, and regional levels. Leveraging our distinct strengths, technical expertise of UNDRR, and operational capacity of UNOPS, we pledge to focus our efforts on putting in place the mechanisms to make this happen.”

Operationalising the Santiago Network

The Santiago Network set up at COP 25 in 2019, assists developing countries in addressing climate change impacts through technical support from various sources. The Parties agreed on the institutional arrangements to operationalise the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage. This agreement indicates a structural and functional link between the Santiago Network and the Loss and Damage Fund. As of 6 December 2023, it has received about $40.7 million in pledges from the European Union, some of its member states, Switzerland, and the UK.

The Loss and Damage Fund dominated COP 27 in Egypt after decades of pressure from climate-vulnerable developing countries. A Transitional Committee was set up, composed of 24 members representing different geographical regions. The committee was tasked to recommend operationalising the new Loss and Damage Fund.

UNEP defines ‘loss and damage’ as negative consequences that arise from the unavoidable risks of climate change, like rising sea levels, prolonged heatwaves, desertification, the acidification of the sea and extreme events, such as bushfires, species extinction and crop failures. As the climate crisis unfolds, these events will happen more and more frequently, and the consequences will become more severe. (nsh)

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