Following the severe social and physical damages caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on loss and damage was established at COP19. ECO appreciated last year’s work by the Initial Executive Committee of the WIM on a two-year work plan (2015/2016), which was eventually approved by COP20.
However, though the loss and damage negotiations have moved forward, the operationalisation of the WIM has not taken place yet. Six months into the year, and its Executive Committee still has not been formed, due to a lack of nominations from Annex I countries. Negotiators must not leave this session without a clear sense of when the WIM will actually start its work, as its work plan–despite limitations–clearly acknowledges some of the emerging and broad challenges of loss and damage.
An urgent task is to decide upon activities to enhance understanding of how loss and damage affects particularly vulnerable segments of the population and ecosystem, and what can be done about it. The WIM should also take up work related to the impacts of loss and damage on social protection systems. ECO hopes that this come up with clear recommendations to ensure their functioning in a future containing increasingly intense disasters.
Addressing data and knowledge gaps regarding slow-onset events is equally important. Small island states, low-lying coastal areas, and glacial areas need resources to fully address the challenge.
Promoting ways to deal with climate change-induced migration and displacement is also needed. Methods for scenario analysis and stress testing may help countries understand when global temperature increase might overwhelm them, and push them over the limits of adaptation. This could be yet another call for higher mitigation action.
Finally, designing the work plan for the 5 years after 2016 will set the next stage for the mechanism. There is a lot of work to do for the WIM, and it has to start immediately. It would be a shame if we come to Paris and have no progress to report on.
ECO wants to see the Paris legal text trigger more ambitious, longer-term work on loss and damage (while pushing for enhanced mitigation and adaptation actions). This should be supported by finance and adequate institutional arrangements for 2020 and beyond. If we get the WIM right, it will become more than just a negotiation whim!