Loss and damage (L&D) has come a long way since the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements. Last year at COP21, L&D received its own article under the Paris Agreement, Article 8. But what happens next? For the first week of COP22, L&D was on the agenda under SBI agenda item 11 and SBSTA agenda item 5, so the chairs of both subsidiary bodies created a joint informal consultation to discuss the following two issues. First, the informal consultation was tasked with consider the recommendations in the WIM Executive Committee’s (Excom’s) 2016 Report, especially as it relates to its framework proposal for its five-year workplan. Second, the parties at the informal were asked to undertake the review of the WIM, as mandated by the mechanism’s creation in 2/CP.19.
Since the beginning of the week, the parties have been working toward agreements on both agenda items. Led by Beth Lavender of Canada and Alf Willis of South Africa, the parties are beginning to come to agreements on each of their two agenda items. One agreement the parties came to was there needed to be two separate decisions on each agenda item to present to the subsidiary bodies. For the Excom Report, the co-facilitators circulated draft conclusions on Wednesday to begin discussions on the topic. One sticking point on these conclusions was whether the decisions should invite parties to make submissions on the financial placeholder in the five-year workplan framework from the Excom Report.
The issue of financial support for L&D is still an issue with all parties involved in this process. When the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) first brought up the concept of L&D in 1991, its goal was to create a compensation fund in order to compensate those countries who would be harmed by sea-level rise from climate change. From this point on, the idea of compensation has been hotly contested, especially by developed countries like the United States. This idea was also debated in Paris, but ultimately, the parties agreed that Article 8 did not “involve or provide a basis for any liability compensation.” Despite this, many developing countries still need financial support from the developed world to deal with L&D.
Late Friday night, the co-facilitators and the parties issued a second version of the draft conclusions text. This version of the text included a paragraph specifically asking parties to make submissions on the various placeholders in the framework workplan, including finance. Presumably, this new text signifies a compromise between the parties and that this text will be approved and sent to the subsidiary bodies for approval by the COP.
On the second agenda item, the parties were still discussing how and when they should conduct the review. Some believed that the review of the WIM needed to be completed by the end of COP22, while others thought that the parties needed time for party submissions on various issues before the review could conclude so the actually review should not be finalized until COP23. In order to help bridge this gap, the co-facilitators drafted questions with inputs from the parties and these questions would help guide the review process. The parties have yet to come to an agreement on the issues, but they need to do so before the COP closes for the weekend on Saturday night.
Reviewing the WIM is important, especially following questions in Paris as to whether the WIM was going to continue to be the L&D mechanism under the Paris Agreement. Because the parties decided to continue the mechanism, the review is especially important to ensure it performs all of its mandated functions from the past as well as to ensure that it is well-equipped to perform its future duties under the Paris Agreement.
Approving the Excom Report is also important for the future of the WIM under the Paris Agreement because it includes approving and strengthening the WIM’s five-year workplan, which dictates how the WIM will operate moving forward. Inviting party submissions on financial matters may seem like a small issue but there is no financial mandate for L&D in the Paris Agreement, making any information about financial support extremely important for developing countries. L&D is not a remote issue to be addressed in the future. The effects of L&D are affecting countries now. The strides made in the first week at COP22 may seem small when compared to the growth witnessed in Paris, but these developments are extremely important to ensure that the WIM is adequately equipped to address L&D now and in the future.