07 June 2016

Loss and Damage session held at Adaptation Futures Conference 2016 in Rotterdam

Members from IIASA’s RISK program co-organized a session on Loss and Damage at the Adaptation Futures Conference, held this year in Rotterdam, addressing the theme, “Options and opportunities for the Loss and Damage Mechanism: Understanding the roles of risk management, finance and climate justice.”

© Edwinmostert | Dreamstime.com - Skyline of Rotterdam with Erasmus bridge

© Edwinmostert | Dreamstime.com - Skyline of Rotterdam with Erasmus bridge

COP 21 in Paris gave formal recognition to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism) and established it as a separate field of negotiation in addition, not under climate change adaptation. There is currently very little understanding of the role and potential of the Loss and Damage Mechanism, and how it can be operationalized beyond the procedural progress made in the Executive Committee

Organised by the Loss and Damage Network, which is composed of researchers and civil society partners, this session at the Adaptation Futures Conference aimed at taking debate in science and policy forward by presenting:

  • state of the art research on extreme event attribution and loss projections
  • framings and perspectives on the Loss and Damage debate
  • the potential of climate risk management
  • innovative options for the negotiations

The session was well-attended with more than 50 participants and audience members. From IIASA's RISK Program, Reinhard Mechler, Deputy Program Director for RISK and Thomas Schinko, Research Scholar for RISK discussed if and how a climate risk management approach can contribute to taking the Loss and Damage discourse forward. They suggested that Loss and Damage is beyond climate change adaptation. Building on the notion of tolerable versus intolerable risk and combining it with the concepts of spaces for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, they identified the space for Loss and Damage as comprised of two elements: (1) the Loss and Damage risk space, which picks up the intolerable risk component from the disaster risk reduction policies and climate change adaptation space, and (2) the Loss and Damage compensation space, which deals with climate-related impacts once the technical and feasible limits to climate change adaptation fall below the societally desired level.

John Handmer, from the department of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia and Guest Research Scholar at IIASA’s RISK Program, provided insights regarding his work in the Southwest Pacific. The region is very much favoring the Loss and Damage Mechanism due to its strong focus on dealing with existential risks. The focus in the region has been on loss of land and climate induced displacement: Communities in the Southwest Pacific are already facing these irreversible losses.

Elisa Caliari, from the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC) and one of IIASA’s Young Scientists Summer Program candidates this year in the RISK Program, made contributions on the importance of international relations. She mentioned her ongoing work involving discourse analysis of current negotiations to understand the political debate, particularly focusing on how Loss and Damage debate emerged on the policy scene, and how power relations and different perceptions of Loss and Damage interact.

The session ended with further debate regarding a need for more communication, as well as better definitions of Loss and Damage, and active involvement of key stakeholders in the discourse, which will see increasing attention in the run-up to COP 22 in Marrakesh.

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Last edited: 11 July 2016


Thomas Schinko

Research Scholar

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 467

Reinhard Mechler

Deputy Program Director

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 313

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313