Why Denmark and Guinea are working together to tackle climate loss and damage

Comment: Solidarity and innovation are needed to provide a safety net for communities vulnerable to droughts, floods and intense storms

Mucho Kerio, a pastoralist with his dog is looking for pasture for his goats in Kenya. Following repeated droughts, Mucho and his family have started fishing in Lake Turkana to survive. (Photo: Jakob Dall/DanChurchAid)


Worldwide, communities on the frontlines of climate change are facing increasing loss and damage because of droughts, floods, and devastating storms.

People in vulnerable developing countries are affected most. And they have fewer resources to address the impacts of climate change on food production, availability of water, damage of infrastructure, and loss of livelihoods.

As an international community, we must ensure that these vulnerable people, communities and countries have the support they need to address loss and damage.

Last year, the Danish Government launched a new strategy on international climate action. It emphasises the need to contribute to preventing and reducing the risk of climate induced loss and damage. This includes the provision of finance.

Global solidarity is needed to prevent the poor from falling deeper into poverty. This is also our message today.

Devastating droughts destroy harvests and challenge the survival of poor smallholder farmers. There is a need to develop safety nets, such as insurance schemes and forecast-based finance to assist when support is needed the most.

The effects of climate change may lead to irreversible loss. For instance, when low-lying villages such as in Boffa in Guinea experience flooding due to intense storms, households and communities need help to address the loss and damage they face.

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We need innovation to develop these solutions, to ensure that support becomes available for the poorest and most vulnerable communities. When people face lasting loss of their livelihoods, decrease in income and food security, they often face impossible choices.

On the frontline of climate change, people may be forced to leave their homes in search for new opportunities. It is estimated that more than 230 million people were displaced over the past decade due to weather related disasters. With increasing global temperatures, this number is likely to go up.

In Kenya, DanChurchAid and partners supports pastoralists, who are forced to abandon their traditional way of life, moving their livestock in search of water and land to graze.

With loss of grazing lands and the death of livestock due to droughts, many pastoralists have now settled down by Lake Turkana, where they have taken up fishery. Another example is Danida’s support through vocational training in northern Kenya, turning herders who have lost their livelihoods into bricklayers and mechanics.

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When climate change leads to loss, as it has for these pastoralists, there is a need to help people resettle and learn new skills. But to assist people change their way of living cannot always be valued in economic terms. Developing approaches to address non-economic loss and damage is therefore critical. These approaches must be developed in cooperation with the affected households and communities.

Scaling up mitigation to avoid loss and damage from climate change and ensuring everyone has the capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change are both critical. To help people facing both economic and non-economic losses and damages, we must work together through a concerted effort based on global solidarity.

Support is especially needed to people in vulnerable developing countries so that they can recover and benefit from continued development.

To make this possible, we believe that partnerships are needed. We need to share experiences and look for new ways to move forward. That is why Denmark together with DanChurchAid and the Government of Guinea are holding an international workshop on 3 June to zoom in on lessons and solutions.

We need joint efforts by governments, the private sector, and civil society. And most importantly, we need to work together with the people on the ground, those who live on the frontline of climate change. Nobody should be left behind.

Oye Guilavogui, is the minister of environment and water and forest at the Republic of Guinea, Flemming Møller Mortensen is minister for development cooperation in Denmark and Birgitte Qvist-Sørensen is general secretary at DanChurchAid. 

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