“Let us listen to the groaning of the earth, let us pay attention to the cry of the poor (…).” Pope Francis’ speech appears to have resonated in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). By ratifying the creation of a Loss and Damage fund, the 198 countries present have finally responded to the cry, which has remained inaudible for thirty years, from the countries of the South. They suffer first from natural disasters due to climate change.
Anxious to initiate a diplomatic success, the UAE opened the waltz of donations with an envelope of 100 million dollars. Developed countries followed: 225 million euros for the European Union, 40 million pounds for the United Kingdom, 17 million dollars for the United States, etc. These contributions are voluntary: in its current version, the text does not impose any financial obligation on developed countries, historically the most emitters of greenhouse gases. A gap in the eyes of Madeleine Diouf Sarr, president of the group of least developed countries, an entity bringing together forty-six nations at the COP: “An empty fund cannot help our citizens.”
This fear is understandable. Losses include irreversible damage such as land submersion due to rising water levels. The damage corresponds to the devastation that can be repaired, such as the flooding of houses. Both cause gigantic economic costs. A study published in the scientific journal Springer Open in 2019, on which the Climate Action Network is based, estimates them at between 290 and 580 billion dollars per year by 2030.
Necessary and targeted help
If “the account is obviously not there”, Fanny Petitbon, climate expert for the Care France association, is delighted that the most vulnerable populations “are finally seeing help in the face of rising sea levels, droughts and all their consequences for which they are not responsible. From 2024, the money will be hosted by the World Bank, a condition imposed by the West. A board of directors from 26 countries, including 14 developing countries, will have to establish its granting criteria. The text already specifies that funding can be allocated to states, regions, but also to cities and local communities very exposed to natural disasters.
To quantify their needs and obtain technical assistance, these populations will have the possibility of contacting the Santiago Network, created during COP25 in Madrid (Spain), in 2019. It coordinates various providers providing technical assistance (repair, advice , emergency equipment). This entity has until now remained an empty shell due to lack of funding. The Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Jorge Moreira da Silva, announced that the structure would finally become operational and ensure the link between “NGOs from civil society and the private sector” and the affected populations. A decisive step for international solidarity in the face of the challenge of the century. The first in a long series, developing countries hope.