Observations on the role of the private sector in the UNFCCC’s loss and damage of climate change work programme

Produced as part of the Climate change governance for a new global deal CCCEP research programme theme


Private sector engagement, particularly in relation to public policy based action and strategy, has become a buzz word in most policy areas, but this is often accompanied by a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities between public and private sector.

We investigate this for the new United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) work stream on addressing loss and damage (L&D) from climate change. This paper presents evidence gathered from official submissions by Parties and other bodies to the UNFCCC, the small but growing L&D literature, and experience from the related fields of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA).

The results from the study show: a degree of ‘vagueness’ when it comes to outlining the role the private sector, but expectation that they will support the emerging L&D framework through knowledge, skills and resource. Private sector engagement is mainly seen in the context of utilizing private sector expertise based in developed countries, rather than assessing current and future impacts on the growing private sector in developing countries. Unclear conceptual boundaries of L&D, DRR and CCA are posing a challenge for stakeholders.

While evidence of existing engagement in the L&D debate is noticeable for the insurance industry, there remains only a limited understanding on how to actually measure the effectiveness of such private sector engagement. Creating greater clarity on expectations of and the ability to deliver by the private sector would be important tasks for the UNFCCC to focus on.

Swenja Surminski and Jillian Eldridge