Hurricane Beryl shows why fast-acting loss and damage fund is critical

Caribbean nations need better targeted climate support.

Press release, 04 July 2024

Hurricane Beryl’s trail of destruction in the Caribbean reinforces the need for the newly created loss and damage fund to be able to respond quickly to climate disasters.

It also highlights the importance of more effective long-term support for small countries on the frontline of the climate crisis, so they don’t spiral further into unsustainable levels of debt.

Countries such as Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada have suffered tragic losses from the hurricane – the earliest category 5 storm on record for the Atlantic.

While it’s too early to put a value on the destruction, a disaster like this has the potential to wipe out a significant portion of an individual country’s annual economic output.

At last year’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai, world leaders celebrated the operational phase of the loss and damage fund, although the design is yet to be finalised. Beryl has given a visceral demonstration of why administrators must be nimble, providing easy access to support in the lead up to – and aftermath of – these kinds of disasters.

In Beryl’s case, official warnings issued a week ago predicted its path through parts of the Caribbean. In reality though, there needs to be a significant investment in long-term measures to help frontline communities prepare for these disasters.

IIIED principal researcher Ritu Bharadwaj said: “Hurricane Beryl is a brutal example of what loss and damage looks like.

“The immediate damage bill will be immense, but there will also be a significant long-term economic cost because of the time it will take to rebuild. And we’re just at the start of this year’s hurricane season.

“Getting the design of the loss and damage fund right will be critical to anticipating and responding to these kinds of disasters in the future.

“The international community needs to ensure that Hurricane Beryl and future storms don’t compound the debt burden facing many small island states.”

IIED has advocated for several measures to ensure the loss and damage fund is nimble enough to respond to major climate disasters, including immediate help for affected communities along with support for longer-term resilience.

In May, the leaders of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) endorsed a plan aimed at alleviating crippling levels of debt while also building economic protections.

Part of the plan involves parametric insurance and pooling risk, so that individual countries are not overwhelmed each time a climate-related disaster strikes.

IIED has also developed a toolkit to help measure the readiness of a country's existing social protection programmes to deliver climate resilience. 

Notes to editors

The governance board of the loss and damage fund is due to meet next week to further deliberate how the fund will operate.

For more information or to request an interview, contact Simon Cullen: 
+44 7503 643332 or [email protected]