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Loss & Damage: Empowering communities to be Green islands – Climate Smart

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Bonn, November 15, 2017: The PIDF Secretary General was invited to present on Loss and Damage & the 2030 Agenda: Building Strong Linkages at the COP23 on Wednesday November 15 held at the Fiji Pavilion, Bonn Zone. The side event was organised by UN DESA in collaboration with the President of COP23 (Fiji), the incoming President of COP24 (Poland) and the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (Maldives) and the UN Systems.

This Side Event was intended to be a demonstration of the Co-Organizer’s commitment, focus and continued political emphasis on the issue of Loss and Damage. It highlighted the need for and served to encourage all stakeholders, in the spirit of the Paris Agreement, to address the issue of Loss and Damage in a more focussed and coherent manner.

Additionally, the Event is also intended to underscore the potential adverse impacts of Loss and Damage on the implementation and achievement of the Agenda 2030 including its relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event facilitated dialogue and encouraged coordination through renewed global focus and attention on the need for coherent, enhanced action and support, including finance, technology and capacity building to address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

“We reiterate the call for loss and damage to be anchored as a standalone element that is separate and distinct from adaptation in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement and called for stronger regulations regarding climate proofing of infrastructure as well as a revision or formulation of building and zoning codes,” said PIDF Secretary General Martel.

The Secretary General stressed that climate future on islands are envisioned for an onslaught of category 5 cyclones which will be the new norm and Island communities are neither prepared nor resilient  as key life securities are threatened.

“Community cohesion in time of disaster is shelter, water, food, energy and health. But there is also a need for adapted solutions to be integrated into community planning before the cycle of climate-induced disasters becomes an existential threat,” he said during his presentation at the high level event.

The presentation highlighted the need to focus on empowering communities to be green islands – climate smart through better education, health, communication and energy services, better income, water and food security, safer and cleaner environments.

“These are sustainable development goals. Resilience (Climate Smart) therefore brings together all the SDGs and climate action into a single focus,” said Secretary General Martel.

The Secretary General informed those in attendance that the purpose of a proposed Climate Change Treaty was to achieve sustainable development while strengthening national, regional and global responses to the threat of climate change.

“These include increasing our ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and foster climate resilience and sustainable development, in a manner that does not threaten food production and by preventing, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change,” he further said.

Secretary General Martel enlightened the audience on how the proposed Treaty minimises and address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including its economic and non-economic aspects and the necessity to focus on migration with dignity, and cooperate on arrangements for migration to a location where all of their human rights are optimally protected.

“There is a need to establish a Pacific Framework for Climate Mobility to facilitate internal and cross-border movement in the context of climate change and to ensure the protection of Pacific heritage, cultures and languages in the context of climate-induced migration,” commented the Secretary General.

 A compensation fund for assistance and compensation for communities who have suffered climate change-related losses, including loss of food crops, fresh water sources, housing or land was also mentioned to be part of the climate change treaty.

“Not only through voluntary donations, but also through court orders following successful climate change litigation against actors with significant historical responsibility for climate change,” said the PIDF Secretary General.

He said that there are 25 large companies who are the overall culprits responsible for around 75 % greenhouse gas emissions and that almost everyone knows all the key reserves and are exploiting and exporting coal, oil and gas, however, the challenge lies in proving the climate change, its impact for a specific country and on a specific event.

A lot of case studies have been written in building the narrative for litigation for Loss and Damage in the Pacific but there has been no litigation so far because it is the last resort for many of the Pacific leaders.

Secretary General Martel said that migration is a key issue of damage and the question is if it is going to be permanent or temporary and the Pacific Climate Treaty, put together after the Paris Climate Talks sets out the particulars for the issue of Loss and Damage.

“The Treaty recommends the setting up of a compensation fund that will be adjoined to the individual country – to connect the fund from compensation and litigation in the future.”

In his conclusion the Secretary General called for support of the Pacific Climate Treaty with focus on climate-induced migration as major loss and damage and compensation fund and also for partnerships and linkages for precovery and recovery focused on building green economies for climate smart islands.