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Insufficient And World Bank-hosted Loss And Damage Fund, An Affront To Rural Peoples

Statement on the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund by Chennaiah Poguri, spokesperson of the Global People’s Caravan for Food, Land and Climate Justice and National Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Vyvasaya Vruthidarula Union (APVVU), a federation of farmers, agricultural workers, landless peasants, and other working rural peoples in India.

“The decision to finally operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund is an important initial step in bringing justice to rural peoples in the Global South who are most affected by extreme droughts, tropical cyclones, floods, and sea level rise. However, it is ‘historic’ only because it is long overdue. Let us not forget that for decades, rich countries and major industry emitters ignored their responsibilities to pay up. Initial financial commitments to the fund from the industrialized countries coming out of the ongoing COP28 appear to continue to deny the magnitude of their accountability in the worsening climate crisis.

The world’s biggest polluters are still showing their insincerity and lack of accountability for historic and current emissions. In reality, the USD 475 million in initial pledges is but a fraction of the losses and damages incurred by small farmers, agricultural workers, fishers, and other rural peoples who feed the world. For the past decade, losses in agriculture are estimated at USD 11 billion a year, with countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America disproportionately accounting for the biggest losses. These pledges are but a ‘drop in the ocean,’ and may end up being just for show if there continues to be no clear commitments to long-term mandatory financial obligations.

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Rural peoples reject the World Bank as the interim host of the fund. The WB has historically used public coffers to guarantee profits for private corporations. Funds meant for climate victims, the majority of which are poor and dispossessed rural peoples, should not be used to impose conditionalities on and increase the debt burden of countries in the Global South. This would be tantamount to robbing a gravestone.

The Loss and Damage Fund should instead be managed by an independent and credible entity acceptable to the Global South, and which will ensure easy access for all countries claiming climate compensation.”

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