Global Governance Institute


Loss and Damage in Nationally Determined Contributions

20 October 2021

Loss and damage is expected to be a key issue at the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow (COP26). This policy brief explores how prominently it features in Nationally Determined Contributions.


By Ben Ryder (UCL Geography) and Elisa Calliari (UCL Political Science) 

In the run up to COP26 all countries are expected to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the ‘climate plans’ that outline how countries will reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Yet, as the climate crisis intensifies, and the limits of mitigation and adaptation become clearer, societies will be confronted with unavoidable and in some cases irreversible loss and damage. This policy brief shows that an increasing number of countries are including loss and damage considerations and responses in their latest NDCs, and thus sending a strong signal about the need to address loss and damage to fulfil the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Key findings: 

  • One third of the latest NDCs mention loss and damage explicitly;
  • 54% of NDCs mentioning loss and damage have been put forward by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs);
  • Asia Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean are the most represented regions across the NDCs that mention loss and damage (38% and 40% respectively);
  • The process of updating the NDCs shows that loss and damage is becoming an important issue for an increasing number of countries, including those classified as upper-income; 
  • The vast majority of NDCs which mention loss and damage refer to physical and economic loss and damage, but the latest submissions point to a growing focus on non-economic losses (NELS);  
  • Of NDCs that mention loss and damage explicitly, 52% discuss specific loss and damage-related responses and initiatives;
  • We see low, but increasing, levels of details and specificity about national loss and damage initiatives, including those focused on knowledge generation, policy programmes and institutional arrangements.

Read the full policy brief

This work was supported by the European Research Council project CCLAD (The Politics of Climate Change Loss and Damage)