Research interview: "We aim to make major advances in the methodology of measuring loss and damage in a way that builds on yet goes beyond current best-practice in disaster accounting and assessment"
Why are you interested in the field of loss and damage?
I find loss and damage such an interesting topic because of what it tells us about progress in sustainable development. Loss and damage occurs where communities have been unwilling or unable to adapt to a changing climate, which overwhelmingly tend to effect those already most vulnerable and marginalised. Studying where and how loss and damage is experienced, or who and what is at risk for loss and damage, helps us identify those places most in need of development support, both within and between nations.
What are you doing in DICE?
I am a post-doctoral fellow working on the project. I am mainly responsible for undertaking a critical review and re-assessment of the way loss and damage is conceptualised in science, and for carrying out an empirical case study of loss and damage by examining the impacts of Hurricane Michael which devastated communities and environments in the Florida Panhandle (USA) in October of 2018.
What do you want to achieve during the project?
I hope that we can contribute on three different levels. First, we aim to re-conceptualise the science of loss and damage in a coherent, comprehensive and integrative way in fulfillment of the requirements of the Warsaw International Mechanism. Second, following this re-conceptualisation, we aim to make major advances in the methodology of measuring loss and damage in a way that builds on yet goes beyond current best-practice in disaster accounting and assessment, in particular in the areas of social and ecological loss and damage. Finally, building on these first two contributions, we aim to identify major international-local loss and damage policy gaps and provide scientifically grounded advice on how to improve existing or advance new policies for avoiding, minimising and addressing loss and damage around the globe.
How does your research in DICE relates to the sustainable development goals and the policy and capacity arena?
Our research in a general sense is relevant to all of the sustainable development goals (SDG:s). However, while all loss and damage relates to issues of climate action (SDG13), our work tries to show that there are multiple competing approaches to loss and damage, each with different priorities in terms of the SDGs. For example, the predominantly economic focus in loss and damage research draws attention specifically to SDGs focused on poverty reduction (SDG1), zero hunger (SDG2) and decent work and economic growth (SDG8). Other approaches that prioritize social issues draw attention specifically to SDGs focused on for example reduced inequality (SDG10) or peace and justice (SDG16).
What are, according to you, the most pressing research questions related to loss and damage?
Because the field is so new, the most pressing questions in loss and damage research are also some of the most basic - for example, what counts as loss and damage and why? How do we measure loss and damage in a consistent way? Where is loss and damage most likely to occur (or already occurring), and where are there major gaps in our understanding?
What are your thoughts on sustainability and on sustainability research?
A focus on sustainability, particularly in the context of climate change impacts, has never been more necessary.