Abu Dhabi has hosted the first board meeting of the Global Climate Fund for Loss and Damage.

The board of the fund meeting focused on financing innovative solutions emerging from the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which was hosted by the UAE at Expo City, Dubai, at the end of 2023, as well as what was agreed upon in the “UAE Consensus.”

During his speech at the preliminary events, Abdullah Balalaa, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Energy and Sustainability Affairs and UAE representative in the fund's board, stated: "Parties have contributed to making history on the first day of COP28, by agreeing on the activation and financial arrangements of the Global Climate Fund for Loss and Damage after 30 years of anticipation, reflecting international solidarity to support the most impacted developing countries from the repercussions of climate change."

He highlighted the board’s crucial role in ambitiously implementing this commitment reflecting the UAE's leading and steadfast efforts in creating a sustainable future for all.

The UAE’s hosting of the first meeting on the Global Climate Fund for Loss and Damage, following the historic outcomes of COP28, which included the activation of the fund and its financial arrangements, is the aftermath of the COP28 Presidency’s efforts and the negotiating team's constructive cooperation with all parties. Moreover, it is the result of global cooperation towards supporting the most vulnerable developing countries from climate-related impacts.

The negotiators will continue to call on all parties to fulfill existing undertakings and expanding them with additional pledges beyond what was initially announced during COP28, by building on the momentum achieved and ensuring the fund's readiness for action by COP29.

The COP28 Presidency had assigned a team of skilled Emirati youth to negotiate with concerned parties over this vital issue. The young negotiators – in following the events of the first landmark meeting which was the culmination of their efforts – described their participation in the negotiations on "Addressing Loss and Damage" as an unforgettable experience which enabled them to witness a historic achievement firsthand.

They also expressed their happiness over the outcomes of the Consensus and its potential for realising significant and fundamental change. Moreover, they affirmed confidence in the fund and the board to play a decisive role in assisting developing countries confront increasingly negative climate-related impacts.

COP28, hosted by the UAE, served as a historic milestone, which accomplished consensus among all countries on activating and financing mechanisms for a global fund specialised addressing the impacts of climate change. For almost three decades, since it was first introduced to the COP agenda, the concept of supporting the most vulnerable countries from the consequences of climate change has been a topic of discussion.

The fund represents a crucial step towards enhancing international solidarity to face the climate crisis and its increasing repercussions, where several regions across the world suffer from storms, floods, wildfires, rising sea levels, severe weather phenomena, droughts, and other negative impacts of climate change. However, the most susceptible countries such as island states and developing nations are the least responsible for the harmful emissions causing global warming yet face existential threats due to the negative effects of these emissions on the environment and climate.

For more than 30 years, developing countries faced strong opposition from wealthy countries, who feared being compelled to pay compensation for their emissions. At COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, leaders agreed to establish a fund to support developing countries, especially in the Global South, to deal with the devastating impacts of climate change, yet observers believed that turning this agreement into practical and tangible action might take a long time. Therefore, the activation of the fund and the start of its financing at the outset of COP28 was a pleasant surprise to the world, and a testimony of the UAE’s seriousness and the efficiency of the conference’s presidency, and a reflection of the strength of its results that exceeded expectations.

These outcomes were achieved on account of the diligent efforts of the COP28 Presidency, and the UAE's contribution of USD 100 million to the fund, which encouraged the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other parties to present rapid pledges and contributions reaching approximately USD 400 million. Additionally, 19 countries have pledged commitments reaching a total of USD 792 million, including USD 662 million for financing.

However, there remains a pressing need for increased support to fulfill the needs of developing countries. Therefore, the COP28 Presidency continues calling for capable countries and entities to contribute towards financing the fund.

Notably, the agreement stipulates that the World Bank should host the fund for an initial period of four years, whereby the fund will distribute resources based on available evidence, with a specific percentage allocated to support the least developed countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The tasks of managing the fund include administering its resources fairly, developing effective mechanisms to ensure the implementation of projects and monitoring their results. Achieving these goals necessitates a concerted international effort to confront the increasing severity and frequency of natural disasters associated with climate change, and developing flexible mechanisms to meet the evolving needs of countries and keep up with the rapid developments in the field of climate change.

COP28’s Presidency played a pivotal role in advancing negotiations to establish the fund, through an extensive global tour aimed at listening, communicating, and fact-finding that included more than 100 countries to identify the needs of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and understand their perspectives. The COP28 UAE Presidency and Emirati negotiators worked tirelessly to ensure that those countries receive fair support through the fund. These efforts have overcome significant challenges due to the UAE's keenness to achieve climate justice, and its solidarity with countries who need the most support.

The Global Climate Fund for Addressing Loss and Damage faces essential challenges, most prominently, ensuring the sustainability of financing, as the total needs of developing countries to face the impacts of climate change are estimated at trillions of dollars, which highlights the pressing need to manage the fund efficiently and transparently. Furthermore, the fund necessitates the commitment of all parties to support and facilitate its tasks with the increased funding provided from wealthy countries and the private sector, enabling it to effectively contribute to the protection of planet Earth from the threats of climate change.

The likelihood of increasing contributions to the fund and guaranteeing its future financing and success are high, particularly in view of the broad international support received so far, and the increasing global awareness on the importance of climate action expected in the years ahead. This represents a recognition of the moral responsibility of advanced nations in supporting developing countries confront the challenges of climate change, to ensure the most impacted countries are able to finance efforts to achieve climate resilience and recover from climate-related disasters.