Loss and damage

The Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV) Program contributed to resolving the debate on formulating and shaping the Loss and Damage Mechanism, agreed at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in 2013.

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The Loss and Damage Mechanism, agreed in Warsaw in 2013, is intended to address climate change impacts that cannot be cost effectively reduced or are “beyond adaptation.” There is considerable debate regarding how to formulate and shape this mechanism. RPV contributed to resolving this debate by proposing an actionable concept for dealing with potential loss and damage based on the recurrence and potential consequences of hazards—a concept known as risk layering [1].

Figure 1. Loss and damage mechanism (click on image to enlarge).

Layered disaster risk management for flood risk, for example, could mean physical flood protection to deal with more frequent and less serious events, risk financing for infrequent and more consequential disasters, and public and international compensation for extreme catastrophes. For risks that cannot easily be adapted to or cost-effectively managed through risk reduction or risk transfer, there would be compensation from the wealthy countries to the highly exposed vulnerable countries. Equity and efficiency are thus core considerations of this concept.


[1] Mechler R, Bouwer LM, Linnerooth-Bayer J, Hochrainer-Stigler S. Aerts, JCJH, Surminski S, Williges K (2014). Managing unnatural disaster risk from climate extremes. Nature Climate Change 4:235–237. doi:10.1038/nclimate2137.

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Last edited: 12 March 2015


Reinhard Mechler

Deputy Program Director

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 313

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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