Beyond adaptation: Addressing loss and damage in the face of climate change
FS-UNEP Centre / 22 January 2024
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Programme Coordinator at Frankfurt School’s Sustainable World Academy
Khayala is responsible for the “Certified Expert in Sustainable Finance” and “Certified Expert in Financing NDCs” courses offered by Development Finance e-Campus. She has also conducted extensive research on topics covering Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement and its implementation in developing countries. She has a strong track of experience in sustainable finance, having worked in implementing and developing NDC explorer tools stemming from research carried out on first and updated NDCs of countries.

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Two months ago, from 2 to 6 October, Frankfurt School (FS) representatives attended the leading international conference on climate adaptation, the “Adaptation Futures 2023” (AF23), in Montreal, Canada. The conference served as a critical catalyst for advancing the global dialogue on climate change adaptation, highlighting the interconnectedness of scientific research, policy decisions and practical actions.

One key topic of the AF23 Conference was Loss and Damage, as various experts emphasised the importance of including an appropriate methodology for allocating loss and damage measures, recognising that vulnerable countries have diverse challenges and thus require different measurements for fund allocation. In this regard, FS participated in three different but intervened perspectives.

Scientific perspective

Michael König-Sykorova from the FS-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Renewable Energy Finance, supported by Khayala Sadikhova from the Sustainable World Academy (SWA), hosted a session on the topic of Financing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in African countries, which used eight academic in-country case studies comparing local contexts and realities with challenges and opportunities to scale up climate finance in African countries.

Funded by the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) and co-implemented by the African Research and Impact Network (ARIN), in-depth discussions took place on “Loss & Damage”. Case study authors cited numerous examples of loss and damage in both economic and non-economic terms, including damage to property and infrastructure, loss of crops and livestock, loss of life, displacement from homes and loss of biodiversity, which could be evidently reduced by aligning and scaling up climate finance flows with NDCs on their way to achieve the Paris Agreement. The case studies will be published in 2024, so stay tuned for more insights on this perspective.

Practitioner perspective

Michael also engaged in in-depth discussions on the Locally led adaptation metrics for Africa (LAMA) to explore the potential of LAMA to improve its effectiveness and accountability. Identifying strategies for scaling up the use of LAMA in order to align it with international standards is a critical element for effective climate finance. Fostering the discussion on insights of certain challenges and opportunities of measuring and reporting locally led adaptation appears as a crucial topic, especially for vulnerable communities affected by (non-) economic losses in recent years.

Educational perspective

Finally, Khayala and Callum Lee, also from SWA, emerged as a beacon of educational enlightenment, showcasing collaborative projects with the FS UNEP Collaborating Centre, specialised Certified Expert courses and an enriching Online Master’s programme. The vibrant FS booth served as a hub for capacity building, inviting attendees to embark on a transformative learning journey in critical sustainability fields. The strong demand for executive education in this domain was evident through discussions with conference participants about course modalities. Valuable feedback gathered will ensure continuous alignment with industry needs.

Losses and damages in today’s world

“Loss and Damage” is a term referring to the adverse impacts of climate change that surpass the ability of countries and communities to adapt or that occur despite adaptation efforts. In recent years, loss and damage have gained prominence in the climate change debate because it is becoming increasingly clear that mitigation and adaptation alone will not be enough to address the impacts of climate change. Even if we take ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), some impacts of climate change are already inevitable as hard adaptation limits are reached (e.g., rising sea levels). Thus, even if we invest heavily in adaptation, there will be some impacts that we simply cannot avoid.

The examples and scientific evidence of losses and damages serve as a stark call to action. The international community must recognise that addressing loss and damage is not merely a matter of financial compensation but a moral imperative. It is a question of justice for those who have borne the brunt of a crisis they did not create.

Gaining momentum at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in 2022, nations agreed to establish a loss and damage fund, signalling tangible progress in addressing climate change’s irreversible impacts.

The establishment of a dedicated Loss and Damage finance facility marks a significant step forward in recognising the urgent need for support and reparations. The international community must continue mobilising resources, fostering collaboration and developing innovative solutions to address the multifaceted challenges of loss and damage.

The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) that was held between 30 November 30 and 12 December 2023 in Dubai was a crucial opportunity to operationalise the loss and damage fund, as many vulnerable countries eagerly await the discussions. The key discussions focused on (i) Determining how the fund will be financed, (ii) Establishing clear criteria(measurement) for countries and communities to access funding, (iii) Defining the types of losses and damages that will be eligible for support, and (iv) Establishing a transparent and accountable governance structure for the fund.

FS in action: combating loss and damage

The FS competence centres, as outlined above, including research and educational products, aim to support the global loss and damage agenda in a rapid and decent way by leveraging the expertise to identify and develop evidence-based solutions, channel resources to loss and damage initiatives, and build capacity through educational products and training programs. For more details, see, e.g., the latest policy publication providing an overview of the complex terrain of losses and damages and climate litigation for small island and developing states (FS-UNEP and UNDP, 2023).




Michael König
Project Manager, FS UNEP Collaborating Centre



Michael joined the FS-UNEP Centre in October 2019. He supports the development and implementation of research projects in the field of sustainable and climate finance.