Non-economic Loss and Damage and the Warsaw International Mechanism

Non-economic Loss and Damage (NELD) forms a distinct theme in the documents outlining both the initial 2-year workplan that concluded in 2017 and the future work areas as outlined in the next 5-year rolling workplan of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM Excom). NELD refers to the climate-related losses of items both material and non-material that are not commonly traded in the market, but whose loss is still experienced as such by those affected. Examples of NELD include loss of cultural identity, sacred places, human health and lives. Within the context of the WIM the goal is to raise awareness of the kinds of NELD that occur and, for an expert group, to “develop inputs and recommendations to enhance data on and knowledge of reducing the risk of and addressing non-economic losses” (UNFCCC Secretariat 2014). Initial analysis shows that the two main characteristics of non-economic values are their context-dependence and their incommensurability. These attributes need to be preserved and respected when integrating measures to (i) avoid the risk and (ii) address NELD by a central mechanism under the UNFCCC. While (i) will rely on integrating NELD into existing comprehensive risk management approaches, (ii) requires thorough understanding of lost values and the functions they fulfilled for those affected.

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