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Non-Economic Loss And Damage With Case Examples from Tanzania, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Bangladesh (October 2017)

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This discussion paper demonstrates that climate-induced non-economic loss and damage (NELD) includes forms of damage that cannot be measured or compensated financially. It includes loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, land, territories, artefacts, life, health, knowledge, social cohesion, identity, and sovereignty, and it ultimately causes migration and displacement.

NELD is a relatively new concept and very little academic research has been conducted on it until now. Thus, there are still many questions that need to be answered, not to mention a lack of knowledge and gaps in the data.

This paper introduce the concept of NELD and discusses its main aspects as well as the key challenges related to it.

These include the incommensurability and context-dependency of value, measurements that go beyond market prices, the difficulty of attributing loss to climate change, preventability, the multi-causality of NELD, and the interdependency of various types of loss.

NELD emerged a few years ago within climate policy discourse. This paper provides an overview of how NELD has evolved in the course of the UNFCCC negotiations, and discusses the current mandate of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) to minimize and address NELD. In addition, it also discusses the closely interwined relationship between the work of the WIM on NELD and climate-induced migration and displacement as a last resort or an ultimate consequence of NELD.

Four case reports, based on community-level research, illustrate NELD and how it can affect people’s lives and livelihoods as well as their social, cultural and natural environment. They also demonstrate that NELD has not only been overlooked for a long time by researchers and policymakers, but also by development practitioners and the affected communities themselves. Acknowledging and recognizing NELD is essential not only to minimize and address NELD, but also to bring justice to the people it affects.

This paper also emphasizes the strong normative dimension of NELD, which is closely related to fundamental aspects of climate justice. It also analyzes WIM’s NELD work plan and argues that a first step would involve addressing these concerns. This needs to be followed up by acknowledging, mapping, registering, and managing the risk of NELD in a manner that provides justice to the people affected.

The development of a NELD registry is discussed as an important milestone in any future NELD roadmap.
Moreover, this paper describes the lessons learned regarding the community based method that enabled NELD to be identified, evaluated and registered for the case reports presented below.

The paper concludes with eight policy recommendations directed at WIM and stakeholders at the national level, which built on the main findings and are aimed at better understanding, addressing and minimizing NELD:

  1. Encourage and commission further research and stakeholder consultations

  2. Acknowledge and recognize non-economic loss

  3. Develop NELD registries with similar procedural standards under the coordination of the WIM

  4. Place a strong focus on displacement and migration in the context of NELD in close cooperation of the WIM Taskforce on Displacement and the WIM Expert Group on NELD

  5. Mobilize financing from new sources and oblige major polluters to contribute to a Global Loss and Damage Fund

  6. Mainstream NELD by including NELD as a mandatory item in national communications and National Adaptation Plans 7. Address NELD at national and local levels

  7. Create a Centre for NELD Research, Documentation and Advice that is jointly run by UNFCCC, UNESCO, UNEP, and UNDP.