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Guy Jackson is looking at camera with mountainous terrain in the background.

Guy Jackson

Guest researcher

Guy Jackson is looking at camera with mountainous terrain in the background.

Loss and damage : A review of the literature and directions for future research


  • Karen E. McNamara
  • Guy Jackson

Summary, in English

Climate change researchers argue that a residual domain exists beyond the limits of adaptation to prevent deleterious climate change impacts: this has been labeled as “loss and damage.” Over the last 8 years, there has been significant growth in loss and damage scholarship thus making it imperative to take stock of what we know already and directions for future research. We undertook a quantitative review of academic publications (n = 122) in the loss and damage field to date and documented study characteristics, thematic areas, trends, gaps, and opportunities. The first publication appeared in 2010 before a significant increase in published research after 2013. Although increasingly diverse over time, loss and damage studies have primarily focused on technical, political, and normative questions. Our analysis suggests the following: that researchers predominately conceptualize loss and damage as “limits to adaptation”; that the literature is more practical (i.e., descriptive, does not challenge underlying presuppositions) than critical (i.e., challenges underlying presuppositions) in orientation; that loss and damage is conceived as both an occurring and future condition; and that economic dimensions of loss and damage are prioritized in studies. Recommended future research directions include empirical and theoretical explorations of the potential for transformational change; understanding what people value and how they can engage with loss and grief; ensuring the perspectives of the most vulnerable groups are included in decision-making; and greater policy-relevant research and critical analyses of loss and damage conceptualizations and the Warsaw International Mechanism. This article is categorized under: Climate, Nature, and Ethics > Comparative Environmental Values.

Publishing year





Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change





Document type

Journal article review


John Wiley & Sons Inc.


  • Climate Research
  • Political Science


  • climate change
  • limits to adaptation
  • transformational change
  • vulnerability
  • Warsaw International Mechanism




  • ISSN: 1757-7780