Low income countries urgently need finance, technology to address losses and damage due to climate change

Press release, 22 October 2021
Relocating cities, building storm shelters and evacuation plans among measures needed.

Low-income countries urgently need finance and technology to help them recover from and prepare for large scale losses and damage inflicted by climate change, according to new analysis from IIED.

In the report 'Tackling loss & damage: lessons from vulnerable countries', researchers set out a series of measures countries could take to address loss and damage. They include making early action and recovery plans, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the wake of hurricanes and other extreme weather events, as well as the relocation of entire cities to move people out of harm’s way.

Loss and damage refers to the adverse impacts of climate change that are already inevitable and whose severity means they cannot be adapted to. Despite the recognition in the Paris climate agreement that countries are experiencing loss and damage, there is still no collective agreement on what it means and how it can be dealt with in practical terms. 

As the world has dragged its feet on providing finance for countries to adapt to climate change, loss and damage has become more likely and more severe for least developed countries and Small Island Developing States. It is pushing them to amass spiralling debts as they struggle to recover from compounding shocks, with increasingly negative impacts on their credit ratings and development prospects.

Simon Addison, principal researcher for IIED, said: “Vulnerable communities around the world are losing lives, land and livelihoods to the impacts of climate change and this will only increase as global warming accelerates.

“They need urgent, large-scale financial and technological support to tackle loss and damage as a unique set of risks that threaten their ability to adapt to climate change and to live sustainable and prosperous lives.”

IIED also worked with authors from 12 countries to document case studies showing the challenges and realities of loss and damage on the ground. The Cook Islands in the Pacific are experiencing increasingly severe and frequent cyclones. Risk reduction measures there have included a radio early-warning system and building a new escape road for coastal villagers to flee storms. As losses and damage have mounted, some have left the smaller islands and moved to the biggest – Rarotonga – or even left the country altogether for New Zealand or Australia.

In Bhutan’s Punahka district, rising temperatures have increased the risk of flash floods caused by melting glaciers, known as glacial lake outburst flooding. There is a constant threat of houses being washed away, and agricultural land being covered in sand and silt. The government has provided compensation, reduced the levels of water in glacial lakes by pumping and other measures, and run public awareness campaigns.

Media enquiries

For more information or to request an interview, contact Sarah Grainger (sarah.grainger@iied.org) on +44 7503 643332.

Notes to editors

'Tackling loss & damage: practical lessons from developing nations' was written by Simon Addison, principal researcher for IIED and Ritu Bharadwaj, senior researcher for IIED.

The case studies referenced have been taken from a collection, 'Loss and damage case studies from the frontline', compiled by IIED and the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCAD) working with authors in 12 different countries to highlight the challenges and realities of loss and damage on the ground.