Loss and Damage

The Systemic Risk and Resilience (SYRR) Group and the Equity and Justice (EQU) Group contribute to resolving the debate on how to formulate and shape the Loss and Damage Mechanism, which was agreed at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference in 2013.

16232323 © Ronfromyork | Dreamstime

16232323 © Ronfromyork | Dreamstime

Key Aims of the Loss and Damage Project

The Loss and Damage Mechanism, agreed upon in Warsaw in 2013, is intended to address climate change impacts that cannot be cost reduced cost effectively or are “beyond adaptation.” There is considerable debate regarding how to formulate and shape this mechanism, which addresses key questions revolving around responsibility, climate justice and finance. The SYRR and EQU research groups contribute to informing this debate with research and interactions with researchers, negotiators and other key players. The aim of which is to:

  • Stimulate debate by providing neutral perspectives on the Loss and Damage debate, with some focus on climate extremes and climate risk management,
  • Support the science-policy dialogue on the Warsaw Loss and Damage mechanism, including debate on actionable options via selected side events,
  • Create a network composed of academics, policymakers and practitioners.   

the research groups focus on two lines of research: identifying ways forward for the debate around the concept of climate risk management, which involves identifying synergies with the disaster risk management regime; and studying the role of justice in terms of who bears responsibility for climate-related events due to anthropogenic activities.  

Collaboration with Partners

To this end IIASA, together with Deltares and the London School of Economics and Political Science, co-organized an inaugural networking and book-writing meeting on November 17, 2015; participants comprised scientists working in a range of disciplines and institutions. The meeting saw the launch of a new Loss and Damage initiative, which is to entail broad, rigorous and evidence-based scientific work in support of the L&D mechanism.  

The following foci and areas for collaborative work were identified:

  • Articulation of principles and definitions of Loss and Damage including ethical and normative issues central to the discourse (e.g. liability and responsibility)
  • Definition of the Loss and Damage space vis a vis the adaptation space
  • Research on the politics and institutional dimensions of the debate.
  • Definition of the scope for dealing with sudden-onset risk (climate risk management) vs. dealing with slow-onset impacts.

The initiative aims to tackle these issues and questions over the coming years in order to provide actionable, research-based input for the Loss and Damage deliberations.

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Last edited: 29 June 2021


Reinhard Mechler

Research Group Leader and Senior Research Scholar Systemic Risk and Resilience Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program


Thomas Schinko

Research Group Leader and Senior Research Scholar Equity and Justice Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313