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LUCSUS contributes to a new explainer on non-economic loss and damage

seaweed farmers in Zanzibar. Photo.
Rising temperatures of the Indian Ocean are killing the seaweed, and threatening the livelihoods and traditions of women seaweed farmers in Zanzibar. Photo credit: Natalija Gormalova / Climate Visuals Countdown

Guy Jackson, post-doctoral researcher at LUCSUS, has co-written a new explainer on loss and damage, published by the by Loss and damage Collaboration. It unpacks the what, why, how, where, and who of non-economic loss and damage, and provides actionable advice on how people and institutions can begin to address it. The explainer aims to inform research and policy development going forward, especially in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt, where loss and damage has emerged as a key issue.

Climate change is already causing permanent loss and reparable damage to things people value. Although economic impacts dominate the science and policy of climate change loss and damage, non-economic impacts far outweigh direct economic loss and damage. Non-economic loss and damage refers to things of value – intangible or tangible that are not commonly traded in markets. This includes for example loss and damage to traditions and culture, ecosystems and biodiversity, physical and mental health, sense of place and identity.

Loss and damage has emerged as a key concern within the UNFCCC and our work helps to shed light on the importance of non-economic dimensions, says LUCSUS post-doctoral researcher Guy Jackson.

He has been leading the work on a non-economic loss and damage explainer and policy brief, published by Loss and Damage Collaboration, as part of his work within the LUCSUS project DICE, Recasting the disproportionate impacts of climate change extremes.

A Non-Economic Loss and Damage Explainer  (PDF)
A Non-Economic Loss and Damage Policy Brief  (PDF)

The importance of interdisciplinarity and partnership between institutions

Guy Jackson emphasises that research on non-economic loss and damage must be interdisciplinary. To understand the kinds of losses and damaged being experienced by people demands drawing from theory in sustainability science, geography, economics, psychology, and philosophy. Although climate change is an objective phenomenon, the ways in which people experience climate change is mediated by subjectivities and values.

– LUCSUS holds much knowledge on loss and damage, but, like the report demonstrates, we collaborate with many other scientists from a range of academic, policy, and government institutions. Learning, sharing knowledge, and building partnerships with a range of societal actors is necessary when working on such a real-world problem as loss and damage, says Guy Jackson.

Workshop on non-economic loss and damage at COP27

On 11-12 November, LUCSUS researchers will organise a workshop in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with scholars from across Africa working on climate, development, and vulnerability to engage and discuss current knowledge gaps and future directions on loss and damage from climate change.

As the IPCC Working Group 2, Chapter 9 “Africa” (2022, 1289) opening remark states:

Africa is one of the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, yet key development sectors have already experienced widespread losses and damages attributable to human-induced climate change, including biodiversity loss, water shortages, reduced food production, loss of lives and reduced economic growth (high confidence).

This statement emphasises that losses and damages from climate change are already being experienced across the continent. However, little empirical research records people’s experiences of these losses and damages.

– Our hope is to create a network of researchers that can work together to identify the gaps and needs that currently exist and propose a course of research to begin to address them with a particular focus on non-economic loss and damage, says Guy Jackson, who will be organizing the workshop together with several other LUCSUS researchers.

Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM)

The COP established the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism), to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change at COP19 (November 2013) in Warsaw, Poland.

The implementation of the functions of the Loss and Damage Mechanism will be guided by the Executive Committee under the guidance of the COP.

What is the COP?

The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.

Guy Jackson. Photo.

Guy Jackson is a researcher at LUCSUS.  He is interested in critically examining climate change loss and damage, and disaster risk reduction, and the (re)production of vulnerability in socio-ecological systems.

Read about Guy Jackson on his webpage