Report / Paper
Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change: The Legal and Institutional Context in Bangladesh
ORGANISER: Germanwatch, Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII), United Nations University – Institute for Human and Environment Security (UNU-EHS), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN)
Cover: Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change: The Legal and Institutional Context in Bangladesh
There is now no serious scientific dispute about the cause and consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Mitigation and adaptation approaches have been agreed on under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process to deal with climate change. However, due to delayed and inadequate efforts on both fronts, the adverse impacts of climate change are causing harm to the lives and livelihoods of millions of people all over the world and inflicting significant economic losses. As such, Parties of the Convention (as the UNFCCC is known) decided at the eighteenth Conference of the Parties (COP) to establish institutional arrangements, such as an international mechanism, to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change at COP 19 in November of 2013 at COP 19. However, there is a long way to go before it will be possible to establish a required institutional framework for addressing loss and damage within the UNFCCC process.
While negotiations on loss and damage are taking place at the global level, loss and damage resulting from (inter alia) climate change impacts is happening at the local level. Therefore, vulnerable countries like Bangladesh need to develop national policies and legal frameworks to deal with loss and damage without waiting for agreed outcomes on loss and damage from the UNFCCC process. Against this backdrop, this study examines the scope and limitations of existing regulatory frameworks and explores options to develop national legal and institutional frameworks in Bangladesh to deal with loss and damage stemming from climate change impacts.
The study concludes that existing legal and policy frameworks provide a limited scope to assess and address both the current and potential future risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change. However, the provisions of existing policies and laws related to addressing environmental harm, disaster risk management, resettlement and relocation as well as climate change and adaptation finance provide the basis to establish a legal and institutional framework to deal with loss and damage in Bangladesh. Taking into account existing and potential future loss and damage associated with climate change, this study outlines elements of legal and institutional mechanisms that will need to be developed in order to assess the risk of and address loss and damage. A compensation mechanism as well as a livelihood restoration and rehabilitation process will require a well-framed mechanism with coherent institutional arrangements from the local to national level. To reduce potential loss and damage it will be necessary to take protection measures including planned relocation and building infrastructure within an anticipatory adaptation, i.e. damage prevention framework.
This study also assesses the existing financial mechanisms in Bangladesh related to adaptation to climate change and finds current mechanisms inadequate to address future loss and damage. The paper recommends establishing a specific funding window within existing financial mechanisms or a developing a separate financial mechanism to compensate communities affected by loss and damage from climate change impacts. In order to manage the required financial resources to support such a compensation fund, the study suggests the means for which the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) could access current or potential funding mechanisms within the UNFCCC based on the polluter pays principle and in the context of climate justice. Developing the regime at the national level does not necessarily mean that the governments of least developed countries (LDCs) like Bangladesh are liable for compensation towards their citizens. Rather it pre-supposes that a government is responsible for the protection of its citizens and should thus adopt the necessary policy frameworks at the national level. However, ultimately the countries that have contributed most to climate change must – not only ethically but also under international law – assume responsibility to assist such national efforts with required financial and technical support.