Should developing countries give up on loss and damage fund?

  • 12 Jun 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Naisiae Simiren

The second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly has been underway this week, bringing together several heads of state, representatives from member states, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders from across the globe. The event drew participants to the UN-Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi, where critical discussions and engagements on urban development and sustainable housing are taking place throughout the week. 

The theme for the session was “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises”. The delegates discussed various issues including sustainable urban development, affordable housing, urban climate action, urban crises response, local action to achieve SDGs and financing for sustainable urban development. At the same time, the 2023 Bonn UN Climate Change Conference SB 58 has been ongoing in Germany. 

The Bonn conference seeks to build on COP27 mandates and continue discussions on issues of critical importance, such as the global stocktake, global goal on adaptation, just transition, loss and damage and the mitigation work programme. The Bonn conference is expected to make progress on these issues and prepare draft decisions for adoption at COP28. 

President William Ruto during the opening of the UN-Habitat meeting told the delegates that it was time for them to come up with a final solution to the climate issue for African countries. He noted that the global south suffered the most in terms of climate change from the actions of the global north. For instance, African countries are the least contributors to greenhouse gas but the most vulnerable to the actions of the developed countries. The President seemed to take a different stance on loss and damage from what was agreed upon by the African Group Network (AGN) during COP27. In the COP27 conference held in Egypt last year, AGN noted the need for delivery of the Loss and Damage Fund to help developing countries in the adaptation and mitigation efforts of climate change.

The Loss and Damage Fund aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change. President Ruto in his speech urged the delegates that there was a need to come up with lasting solutions, noting that it was not an issue of aid from the developed countries but an issue of fossil fuels versus green energy. President Ruto’s remark seems to be unjustified given the country’s obligation in the Paris Agreement in meeting its National Determined Contributions (NDCs) that require funds to implement. The President in his remark seemed to bank on the continent’s renewable energy resources to meet climate goals under the Paris Agreement and the country’s development goals. 

He noted that industrialisation was possible through the exploration of renewable resources and all that was needed was finance and technology. While the President’s statement is substantiated, the reality is far from the truth. Exploration of renewable resources for industrialisation requires a lot of resources from finances to knowledge. In addition, there is a need for engineering to ensure the reliability of renewable resources to provide energy for large-scale industrialisation. The government needs to fund research and development to ensure that the available renewable energy resources are not depleted. The investment requires finances which Kenya and other developing countries lack. It is therefore important for developing countries to rely on the Loss and Damage Fund to develop infrastructure that ensures the reliability and sustainability of renewable energy resources for both small and large-scale industrial exploration. 

If anything, developing countries should use the upcoming African Climate Summit to come up with a strategy that will ensure the implementation of the Loss and Damage Fund by developing countries that are the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.