Adaptation and Loss and Damage

Climate Change Adaptation and Loss & Damage, associated with the adverse effects of climate change, are among the priority thematic areas of our work. We aim to build on scientific evidence and information related to these issues to assist governments in designing policies and programmes to address the needs of the most vulnerable.

 ©Florent Baarsch / Climate Analytics
©Florent Baarsch / Climate Analytics

Our programs and studies mainly focus on scientific and economic analysis of adaptation options, including cost of residual damages and policy inputs. Our policy experts play an important role in providing real-time support and advice to delegates at UN Climate change negotiations on issues related to adaptation and loss and damage. Our experts have contributed to Africa’s Adaptation Gap reports, published in 2013 and 2015, and for the global level and study on Loss and Damage in Africa.


The concept of non-economic loss and damage (NELD) captures the impacts of climate change that are hard to quantify and often go unnoticed by the outside world, such as the loss of traditional ways of living, cultural heritage and biodiversity. It also encapsulates losses whose valuation raises ethical concerns – loss of life and human health. This discussion paper offers a clarification of the concept and analyses the challenges in addressing NELD.  
Non-economic loss and damage (NELD) has emerged as a new concept in the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It refers to the negative impacts of climate change that are difficult to measure or quantify. The value of NELD cannot easily be expressed in monetary terms, which has left them mostly neglected in climate-risk and cost estimates. This briefing paper looks at the definitions, challenges and policy implication of NELD.  
Africa is anticipated to be confronted with the severest adverse effects of human-induced climate change, compared to most other regions of the world, due to a combination of particularly severe projected impacts and relatively low adaptive capacity (e.g. IPCC AR4, World Bank 2013). The need for adaptation is expected to be high in Africa, especially in light of the existing deficit in adaptation to current climate variability and climate change. However, under any scenario of global mitigation and strong regional adaptation efforts, considerable adverse effects of climate change on Africa will remain, resulting in loss and damage.  
This paper briefly highlights some of the significant and fundamental differences in objectives, terminology, approach, source of financing, legal nature and – importantly – responsibility under the UNFCCC and the Hyogo Framework. In view of these differences, the paper urges caution in reliance on HFA processes to address the range of concern raised under the UNFCCC on loss and damage.  


Produced for the AMCEN, the research aims at improving and understanding science related to loss and damage in Africa, as well as the existing mechanisms to address loss and damage and their limitations. The research also explores the options for institutional arrangements on loss and damage under the UNFCC and investigates the next steps related to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Project Period: 2013 - 2014