climate change

PH, poor countries stand to lose if World Bank hosts climate loss and damage fund – expert

Iya Gozum

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PH, poor countries stand to lose if World Bank hosts climate loss and damage fund – expert

UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR. Ian Fry, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, holds a press conference following a 10-day visit to the Philippines, in Mandaluyong on November 15, 2023.

REUTERS

If the World Bank hosts the loss and damage fund, 'you can’t expect to get a fair decision-making process,' says UN Special Rapporteur Ian Fry

MANILA, Philippines – United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Ian Fry has expressed “grave reservations” on the recommendation to make the World Bank the host of the climate loss and damage fund that was decades in the making.

Poor and vulnerable countries like the Philippines may be unlikely to receive proper compensation for climate disasters, Fry, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, said in a press conference on Wednesday, November 15,

“I have grave reservations about the World Bank being an administrator of a loss and damage fund for a variety of reasons because the bank is dominated by developed countries in their board,” Fry said.

The World Bank also finances fossil fuel projects, he added.

In a landmark agreement at the 2022 Conference of Parties (COP), rich countries finally agreed to provide climate aid to poorer nations, but the details have yet to be finalized.

The purpose of the loss and damage fund is to assist developing and vulnerable countries to respond to droughts, floods, rising sea levels exacerbated by climate change.

Almost a year later, a special UN committee in its fifth meeting agreed to recommend the World Bank as host of the fund for an interim period of four years.

This recommendation, among other talks held prior to the COP, is expected to be threshed out in Dubai.

Conflicts of interest had often delayed climate negotiation breakthroughs. Fry said that at the 2022 COP, the United States – the biggest shareholder in the World Bank – tried to make contributions to the loss and damage fund voluntary.

With these contexts in mind, “you can’t expect to get a fair decision-making process,” said Fry.

“[I]t’s unlikely that people on the ground will get a proper loss and damage finance if the World Bank administers it,” said Fry.

Delayed better outcome vs ‘quick bad outcome’

Despite climate action being a race against time, Fry said it would be better to delay the conclusion of a loss and damage fund than get a “suboptimal fund” – a view that may not be shared by others.

“I suspect the COP president will try and push this decision through, which is disappointing,” said Fry. “I think we should delay a conclusion and come up with a better outcome than have a quick bad outcome.”

For Robert Borje, vice chair of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission, it’s not one or the other.

While the loss and damage fund had been a major advocacy for developing nations for the past decades, Borje said the fund remains “reactive.” The other work is improving the country’s climate adaptation measures, such as infrastructure, disaster management, and food security.

“That was never the end,” Borje told reporters in October.

Tensions are expected to arise in relation to a possible unsatisfactory agreement for many parties. Aside from the loss and damage fund, COP 2023 will take stock of the countries’ progress on meeting the goals set in the Paris Agreement. – Rappler.com

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.