Loss and damage agreement offers hope at COP28 and beyond


Dr Matiur Rahman :

At the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30 to December 12, 2023, the UAE and Germany committed $100 million each to the newly established Loss and Damage Fund.

This fund aims to provide financial assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Their contributions were part of an initial wave of pledges totalling over $400 million, also including contributions from the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Japan.

These initial pledges signal a positive step towards addressing the pressing issue of loss and damage, which has long been a contentious topic in climate negotiations.

For decades, the plight of nations facing L&D – the irreversible and often catastrophic impacts of climate change exceeding their capacity to adapt – has remained largely unheard. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, devastating floods, and crippling droughts have become the cruel reality for many, wreaking havoc on livelihoods, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

Developed nations, historically responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, often turned a blind eye to the devastation they caused. This historical injustice demanded recognition and redress.

The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund represents a significant breakthrough in international climate efforts.

It acknowledges the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable developing countries, which often lack the resources to adapt to its effects.

The fund will provide much-needed financial assistance to help these countries rebuild after climate disasters and invest in resilience measures to prepare for future events.

The UAE and Germany’s commitments to the fund are particularly commendable, given their respective roles as major economies and influential voices in global climate discussions.

Their leadership sends a strong message that developed nations recognize the need to support vulnerable countries in addressing the consequences of climate change.

As COP28 progresses, other developed nations must follow suit and make substantial contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund.

The fund’s success depends on the collective commitment of all parties to address the pressing issue of loss and damage and support vulnerable countries in building resilience to climate change.

The L&D agreement at COP28 signifies a paradigm shift in the global discourse surrounding climate responsibility. It acknowledges the severity of L&D and establishes a dedicated financial mechanism to support affected nations.

This fund offers a tangible expression of solidarity and a chance for vulnerable communities to rebuild, recover, and invest in climate-resilient futures.

However, the significance of the agreement extends far beyond mere financial assistance.

It represents a fundamental shift in the global narrative, acknowledging the historical responsibility of major polluters and paving the way for a future where the burden of climate change is shared equitably.


This step marks a departure from the past, where developed nations often shirked their responsibility and ignored the pleas of vulnerable communities.

While the L&D agreement represents a historic achievement, substantial challenges remain.

The long-term success of the fund hinges on addressing several critical issues as initial pledges, though encouraging, represent a fraction of the vast financial resources needed.

Developed nations must demonstrate their commitment by significantly increasing their contributions to the L&D fund.

The governance and operation of the L&D fund require robust transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure that resources reach the intended beneficiaries efficiently and effectively.

Building trust and preventing misuse of funds is crucial to the fund’s long-term success.

L&D cannot be tackled in isolation. Mitigation and adaptation efforts must be pursued with equal urgency to achieve a comprehensive and effective response to the climate crisis.

While supporting vulnerable communities in coping with L&D is critical, the focus must also be on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience to future climate impacts.

The L&D agreement underscores the power of collective action. It demonstrates that nations, united by a common goal, can overcome even the most daunting challenges.

This act of solidarity inspires hope and reaffirms that we are not powerless in the face of the climate crisis.

However, hope alone is insufficient. We must translate this agreement into tangible action. Developed nations must fulfil their financial commitments, and all nations must work together to implement effective mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The L&D agreement represents a victory for climate justice, but the fight remains far from over.

It serves as a call to action, a collective responsibility to ensure a future where climate justice prevails and vulnerable communities are empowered to build resilience and thrive in a changing climate.

This moment, marked by the historic L&D agreement, opens a new chapter in the fight for climate action. Let us seize this opportunity to build a more just and sustainable future for all.

The L&D agreement promises to have far-reaching consequences beyond the walls of COP28. It sends a powerful signal to the global community, urging businesses and investors to align their operations with a low-carbon future. This shift in the financial landscape can incentivize sustainable practices and accelerate the transition towards clean energy sources.

Furthermore, the L&D agreement empowers vulnerable communities to become agents of change. By providing them with resources and fostering knowledge exchange, they can build their resilience and contribute to global climate action. This bottom-up approach ensures that solutions are tailored to specific needs and contexts, paving the way for long-term sustainability.

The L&D agreement is a landmark achievement, but it is just the beginning of a long journey. To secure a future where vulnerable communities thrive and our planet is protected, we must collectively embrace this transformative moment and translate promises into action. The world is watching, and history will judge us on the steps we take today to build a more just and sustainable future for all.

(The writer is a researcher and
development worker.)