Calls for Equity Rises as Geneva Holds Loss and Damage Secretariat

The Santiago Network on Loss and Damage Critics in Geneva Hosting Loss and Damage Financing has been an issue that has stirred mixed reactions and conversations about its operationalization, effectiveness, eligibility, and the diversities it can thereby consider to meet. The operationalization of loss and damage during the UNFCCC meeting COP28 in Dubai came as a significant win for the most vulnerable communities adversely impacted by the unprecedented eventualities of climate change.

Despite the adoption of loss and damage being cited by pledges of funds from member states showing a gesture of support for the fund, several dilemmas remain. One major dilemma concerns how developing countries and African countries are to receive this support and how the placement of the host secretariat is to influence this process. Based on the meeting held by the Advisory Board of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage (SNLD) from 18 to 20 March, it was decided in Geneva, Switzerland, as the host of the SNLD secretariat.

This decision has stirred controversy among lobby organizations, conservationists, and civil society. It was anticipated that the host would be in a cost-effective country as highlighted in the technical report by UNOPS-UNDRR on cost-effectiveness, including a cost–benefit analysis of various locations around the world as options for the location of the head office of the Secretariat from a pool of potential locations. Some of the recommended locations in the assessment report of UNOPS-UNDRR after analysis through scientifically proven methodologies were Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Bonn, and Geneva.

From the selection of a third option among those highlighted, the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), its allies, and partners representing active non-state actors have raised concerns over the decision to host it in Geneva. According to the lobby organizations, this decision turns a blind eye to what the network is meant to deliver and instead concentrates on institutions of climate governance, particularly on loss and damage in the North.

loss and damage
Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) during the Santiago Network Loss and Damage

Loss and Damage have been curated to support Africa and developing countries and ought to be hosted by either a developing country or in Africa to strengthen their capacity as the centers most affected by climate risks. Civil society and organizations are now calling for justice, greater transparency, and accountability for the developing nations that are direly faced with unprecedented eventualities and risks.

Calls are for Africa and developing countries led by the Chair of the Committee of the Heads of State and Governments on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the Chair of AGN to pronounce themselves and expeditiously compel the Advisory Board to respect and adopt the recommendations of UNOPS-UNDRR, to investigate the possibility of collusion, carrot-dangling, and manipulation by industrialized countries, and for the Advisory Board to foster the principles of climate justice, Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Capacities (CBDR-C), human rights including children’s rights, and gender equality in addressing Loss and Damage.

Other calls include the SNLD to have sustainable, predictable, and sufficient resources (financial, technical, and human resources) to enhance the capacity of countries to respond to losses and damages occasioned by the changing climate. In addition to urging the Advisory Board to demonstrate good faith by swiftly putting together structures that will ensure countries and communities facing losses and damages are reached as soon as possible and have the requisite local governance structures for a response set in place.

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