What If Climate Change Impacts Exceed Adaptation Capacities?

Mar 6th, 2013 | By | Category: Adaptation, Ecosystem Functions, Environment, Events, Green House Gas Emissions, Information and Communication, International Agencies, IPCC, Lessons, Research, Resilience, UNFCCC, Vulnerability

L&DDuring 25-27 February 2013, more than 40 international scholars and experts – among them authors from the IPCC SREX and AR5 reports – convened in Bonn for the scientific conference “Perspectives on loss and damage: Society, Climate Change, and Decision Making”. Participants grappled with the consequences of climate change impacts for human society and natural systems upon which they depend for survival.

The experts critically examined evidence of loss and damage at different scales against the background of an imminent decision in the UNFCCC climate negotiations to establish an institutional mechanism to address loss and damage (mandated in the Doha Climate Gateway Decision and to be agreed in COP19, Warsaw December 2013).

Further, the discussions focused on current and future limits to adaptive capacity, affecting both food and water security and issues of identity, culture and other values.


Four themes emerged from discussions:

  1. There are multiple framings of loss and damage associated with climate change, all of which have different implications for policy (e.g. legal, development, humanitarian, engineering, financial). These framings need to be considered explicitly in the functions and modalities of efforts to articulate institutional arrangements on loss and damage.
  2. Second, moving forward it will be important to get more conceptual clarity around what loss and damage is, how it relates to both adaptation and limits to adaptation.
  3. Third, the participating scientists noted numerous examples and evidence of loss and damage related to climatic stressors, and stressed the need for research to guide future thinking on loss and damage which encompasses a wide array of climate change consequences for society.
  4. Finally, one of the key research needs identified during the conference was the need to signal to policymakers when limits to adaptation are being approached, what the consequences could be, and options for managing loss and damage.


The conference was hosted by UNU-EHS as part of the Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative.

Info note: “Perspectives on loss and damage




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