Making Sense of the Loss & Damage Debate

You may have heard increasing buzz around the concept of “loss and damage” in climate circles. But what does it mean, and why is it crucial?

In simple terms, loss and damage encompasses the devastating impacts of climate change that go beyond what communities can adapt to. These irreversible losses can be economic and tangible, like destroyed homes or livelihoods. But they also include non-economic impacts like loss of culture, health, and life.

Research and activism around climate change loss and damage is growing rapidly. Some key issues being debated:

  • Is loss and damage a separate issue from adaptation, or do they overlap? There’s no consensus yet.
  • Advocates say we should view it not just as technical limits, but as a matter of justice and human rights.
  • Recent studies are uncovering the profound social and cultural losses vulnerable communities face.
  • Groups are calling attention to how women bear a disproportionate burden of climate change impacts. Those on the frontlines, especially women and marginalized groups, should have more influence in policy-making around loss and damage.
  • Who should pay? Debates continue around providing finance and support for those hardest hit.
  • Reports reveal gaps in countries’ climate plans when it comes to loss and damage. Creative funding ideas are emerging, but yet to be implemented.

The literature shows an urgent need to ramp up efforts and resources to address escalating loss and damage equitably. Participatory solutions led by local communities may be key.

The discourse reminds us that climate change uproots far more than just infrastructure – it unravels the social fabric sustaining communities. Making sense of the nuances is crucial as we grapple with irreparable loss.



For more details and the research underpinning these descriptions of impact, delve into studies in the literature landscape brief showcasing intangible losses and their community repercussions.

Read the brief here! 

This blog and the corresponding brief were written by Trimita Chakma. To read all of the resources compiled by Trimita and Bea Moraras as part of the Technical Guidance and Data Mapping consultancy, see A Snapshot of Gender-Environment Data.

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