Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent
Mainstreaming Loss and Damage in Climate Negotiations
Policy Recommendations to Nudge Climate Action
28 October, 2022 | International Cooperation
Jhalak Aggarwal, Shreya Wadhawan, and Aryan Bajpai

Suggested citation: Aggarwal, Jhalak, Shreya Wadhawan, and Aryan Bajpai. 2022. Mainstreaming Loss and Damage in Climate Negotiations: Policy Recommendations to Nudge Climate Action. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.


This issue brief examines the urgency to address loss and damage and its associated impacts. It highlights the different perspectives to understand loss and damage and discusses the fundamental gaps and challenges surrounding the issue. Further, the study analyses the latest Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and offers insights about how nations frame the issue of ‘loss and damage’. While nations are not mandated to report on loss and damage under the Paris Agreement, NDCs are an important source for drawing data on countries’ climate change targets and policies. We recommend ways to eliminate the scepticism and uncertainty surrounding the loss and damage debate, consistent with the Paris Agreement goals.

Key Findings

  • Only 34 per cent of all NDCs mention loss and damage (as of 26 August 2022). Out of the 66 countries that mention loss and damage, 93 per cent belong to the ‘Global South’. Conversely, no developed nation mentioned loss and damage in their NDCs.
  • 66 per cent of the nations that refer to loss and damage in their NDCs have not mentioned any data on loss incurred, associated impacts, and/or non-economic losses. This highlights the lack of capacity in nations to evaluate loss and damage and estimate the financial flows needed to address it.
  • There is an urgent need to arrive at a mutually agreed definition of loss and damage, encourage nations to include the issue in NDCs, synchronise existing institutional arrangements, and increase the availability and accessibility of financial support to address loss and damage.


“Amidst the current geopolitical reality characterised by rising conflicts and mounting toll of extreme weather events leading to differentiated impacts in nations, the need to address loss and damage is an absolute priority. Delivering on a well-structured loss and damage finance facility and operationalisation of the Santiago Network is the need of the hour. COP27 negotiations cannot afford to postpone addressing this issue; without any real progress on loss and damage, there will be no equity in climate negotiations.”

Executive Summary

With the world being marred by the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the focus should be on addressing the consequent climate-related impacts that are commonly referred to as “loss and damage”. According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the world, on average, has experienced a weather- or climate-related disaster every day over the past 50 years, leading to daily losses amounting to over USD 202 million (WMO 2021). “Loss and Damage”1 describes the manifestation of adverse climate change impacts that cannot be avoided either through adaptation or mitigation efforts (UNEP 2014). However, in the absence of mutually agreed-upon definitions and methodologies to assess L&D, what ensues is a lack of clarity, consistency, and coordination on targeted climate action.

In 2013, the UNFCCC set in motion the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts (Rai and Acharya 2020). In 2015, the Paris Agreement provided further recognition of the issue in Article 82, alongside mitigation and adaptation, giving it the place it deserved. However, currently, much of the discussion still focuses on adapting to the increasing effects of climate change even as irreparable disruptions to ecosystems and communities continue to occur.

In light of such climate reality, the inclusion of L&D in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) can help ensure that the issue receives necessary attention while building the case for stronger climate action. With this in mind, we conduct an in-depth literature review where we map all the latest NDCs submitted by countries for mentions of “L&D” and highlight issues, gaps, and challenges with recommended actions for policymakers to address loss and damage globally.

Figure ES1 uncovers insights on major gaps and challenges in the L&D debate.

Our analysis reveals several fundamental gaps and challenges leading to slow progress in international negotiations on L&D. We highlight the key gaps:

  • Data and information gap
    • Lack of a common and standard definition
    • Limited focus on non-economic loss and damage
    • Poor technical expertise to measure and quantify loss and damage
    • Lack of empirical data
  • Lack of integrated approaches and coherence in the current L&D institutional ecosystem
  • Poor mobilisation of L&D finance
  • Absence of a unified framework to address loss and damage

Overview of existing gaps and challenges

climate loss and damage

Source: Authors’ analysis

As we move ahead, actions to address these gaps must be implemented urgently and at scale, alongside adaptation efforts. Further, nations must include targets and measures relevant to L&D in formal communications. Since the Paris Agreement recognises L&D as a separate issue from mitigation and adaptation, Annex-I (developed countries) and Non-Annex-I (developing nations) countries can and must include information on the same4. This can also serve as an input to the Global Stocktake (GST) process5. It is important to note that loss and damage reporting under the new Enhanced Transparency framework is encouraged; however, deliberation of loss and damage in the GST is mandatory. Hence, providing this information in the GST can improve and accelerate the process as well as strengthen the demand for corrective measures. Thus, the discourse around L&D must not be restricted to siloes but should be in symphony with the larger debate on action against climate change.

Key findings
  • Only 34 per cent of all NDCs mention loss and damage (as of 26 August 2022). Out of the 66 countries that mention loss and damage, 93 per cent belong to the ‘Global South’ (developing nations), with the highest representation from Latin American countries.
  • On the contrary, no country belonging to the Global North (developed nations) has mentioned loss and damage in their NDC. This indicates the contrasting views of developing and developed countries on loss and damage and its urgency, which partially explains the limited progress made on the issue so far.
  • A full 51 per cent of small island developing states’ (SIDs) NDCs mention loss and damage, highlighting the impact of extreme climate events on these nations, and 38 per cent of all countries who mention the term have listed it as a separate issue, different from adaptation. This highlights the need for policymakers to mainstream loss and damage as a distinct pillar from adaptation and mitigation in the NDCs.
  • However, 66 per cent of the nations that refer to loss and damage in their NDCs have not mentioned any data on loss incurred, associated impacts, and/or non-economic losses.
  • Lastly, 34 per cent of the countries that state loss and damage in their NDCs have called for international support and/or aid to address loss and damage, highlighting the urgent need for financial support.

Loss and damage is mentioned by 34 per cent of countries in their NDCs as of 2022

Source: Authors’ analysis

Recommendations and way forward

To drive an informed and action-oriented approach towards mainstreaming L&D in the global climate regime, we outline the following call-to-actions:

  • Define L&D and impacts based on robust data and forecasting
    To address ambiguity in the L&D discourse, the need of the hour is to mutually agree on a formal definition. Additionally, we need to establish partnerships between actors to share data, best practices, and country-specific analysis of losses incurred using robust data and forecasting.
  • Include loss and damage in NDCs according to the national context
    As loss and damage impacts differ across nations, it is essential to include loss and damage as a core element of national plans (Rai and Acharya 2020). Countries should evaluate and address their region- specific concerns and identify socio-economic variances to respond to loss and damage effectively.
  • Improve coordination and action through institutional coherence
    It is crucial to strengthen interactions between the scientific community and policymakers to ensure the development of empirical evidence-based strategies, decision-making processes, policies, plans, and actions, all to further develop the capacity to address these important issues in a timely and transparent manner.
  • Increase the availability and accessibility of financial support to address loss and damage
    L&D finance is essential for nations to adapt to and avert climate-related risks and impacts. Further, along with developed nations, the private sector has a significant role to play as a key enabler in mobilising funds, bringing more transparency and accountability to the flow of finance.


1  In the document, we use the term ‘loss and damage’ in lowercase case letters to refer to the harm from (observed) impacts and (projected) risks, and the term ‘Loss and Damage’ (L&D) to refer to the political debate as acknowledged by the IPCC.

2  The Article 8 of the Paris Agreement focuses on L&D. Under this article, the agreement recognizes the importance of addressing the issue through enhancing understanding on the subject and strengthening the Warsaw International Mechanism

3  NDCs or Nationally Determined Contributions are a requirement of the Paris Agreement under Article 4, Paragraph 2, wherein each party to the agreement is expected to prepare, communicate, and maintain the successive commitments that it intends to achieve.

4  Reporting on loss and damage is not mandatory under the Paris Agreement.

5  Article 14 of the Paris Agreement mentions the global stocktake process. This is a process that acts as a monitoring tool by assessing the collective progress of all parties towards achieving the various objectives mentioned in the agreement. Decision 19/CMA.1 describes the process of conducting the global stocktake, including the modalities and sources of input.


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