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Accelerating the Loss and Damage Fund

Delay to establishing the board of a fund for people harmed by global warming threatens to undermine human rights
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Hopeless and lonely farmer sit on cracked earth near drying water.

Amnesty International is urging the rapid operationalisation and capitalisation of the international Loss and Damage Fund, created to remedy the harms faced by communities most severely affected by climate change.

The call comes after higher-income states, which are primarily responsible for causing the climate crisis, missed a deadline to nominate their representatives to its board.

Following the hottest year ever recorded globally, the need for action is acute.

Yet there has been a failure to act swiftly on an agreement at the COP climate summit in November to press ahead and deliver a working Loss and Damage Fund, initially hosted by the World Bank.

This threatens to undermine the human rights of communities which desperately need resources to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The Loss and Damage timeline

The Loss and Damage Fund’s board is mandated to have 26 members, comprising 12 from ‘developed’ states, which bear the greatest historical responsibility for climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; three each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean; two each from small ‘developing’ island states and ‘least developed’ countries and one from another ‘developing’ nation not in these categories.

An agreement to establish the Loss and Damage Fund was reached at COP27 in 2022. Certain parties pledged limited financing to the fund at COP28 in Dubai last year.

The fund’s board was due to hold its first meeting in January, but the continuing delay now threatens the entire 2024 timeline set out for the fund, including a June deadline for the World Bank to confirm its willingness to host it under conditions set at the last COP.

‘The full operationalisation of an adequately financed Loss and Damage Fund is potentially a matter of life or death for millions of people around the world facing the most severe consequences of global warming, such as droughts, floods, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, desertification and loss of livelihoods.

‘Delays to the disbursement of funds at the scale needed threaten the rights of people most affected by the increasing weather extremes and environmental degradation caused by our heating climate.

‘‘Developed’ countries pushed back last year against the concerns of human rights advocates about the World Bank’s involvement by arguing that the bank’s hosting of the fund would help ensure its more rapid operationalisation. These states got want they wanted, and yet are jeopardising progress.

‘Communities on the frontline of the climate crisis should not have to wait as lives and ecosystems are lost while nations which have been the largest historic emitters of greenhouse gases squabble over board seats.
 
‘The fact that only two women have so far been nominated to a 26-member board, despite a mandate for gender balance, is also alarming and should be remedied. Women are among those most susceptible to and worst affected by the climate crisis and should have far more equal representation in the governance of the fund.’

ANN HARRISON
Climate justice advisor at Amnesty International

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