18 September, 2017

Non-economic losses from climate change: opportunities for policy-oriented research


Olivia Serdeczny, Steffen Bauer and Saleemul Huq

The concept of non-economic losses (NELs) has recently emerged in the context of negotiations on loss and damage under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). NELs are losses of values that are not commonly traded in markets but bear high relevance for those affected. Examples include loss of life, biodiversity and cultural heritage. The ongoing institutionalisation of approaches to loss and damage under the UNFCCC offers great opportunities to provide a sound information base for policy- and decision-making on NELs.

Available expertise to meet the emerging knowledge needs includes insights into relevant indicators, and adequate means of integrating NELs into decision-making processes that seek to reduce losses ex-ante. Further research is needed to identify or develop appropriate responses to NELs ex-post. Here, historical analogues of loss and practices of remembrance and recognition can provide valuable insights.

Opportunities for engagement exist at the UNFCCC’s science-policy interface. These include participation and active engagement at open meetings under the UNFCCC to advance exchange on applied research that is framed around policy-relevant questions on NELs as well as interaction with the expert group on NELs that was set up under the designated policy body to work on loss and damage under the UNFCCC, i.e. the Warsaw International Mechanism.