• Delegates to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012, also known as Rio+20, acknowledged that climate change is a cross-cutting and persistent crisis. They expressed great concern that the scale and gravity of the negative impacts of climate change affect all countries and undermine their ability, in particular developing countries, to achieve sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals and threaten the viability and survival of nations.
• Major environmental disruptions and adverse impacts of climate change are threatening the rights of people and countries to, and prospects for, sustainable development. Promoting the paradigm of a green, fair and inclusive economy can help accelerate the shift to low-carbon development pathways, which, for their own sake, need to take into account the impacts of climate change in order to build up the necessary climate resilience.
• By approving the Rio+20 outcome document, governments highlighted the existing ‘ambition gap’ in global mitigation efforts. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions immediately and building up the adaptive capacity and resilience of communities are crucial in addressing loss and damage. However, it is likely that such actions will not be sufficient in many cases and that loss and damage ‘beyond adaptation’ will need to be addressed.
• An integrated and coordinated national, regional and international policy framework is needed to ensure sustainable development in the context of green economy pathways and adverse impacts of climate change. Rio+20 provided the impulse to work towards an ambitious regulatory framework to address loss and damage.
• Between now and 2015, different avenues need to be explored to raise ambitions in mitigation and adaptation and to address loss and damage. This should include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations towards a new international agreement, potentially the Sustainable Development Goals process, the discussions on the future of the Millennium Development Goals, and the further perspective of the Hyogo Framework for Action on building resilience.
• The next few years will show whether the international community takes the loss and damage challenge seriously and helps the most vulnerable communities and countries, in particular Least Developed Countries, by minimising the ‘beyond adaptation’ element – or whether loss and damage will become a driving force to undermine sustainable development in the decades to come.
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