A Minimal Capabilities-Based Account of Loss and Damage

Laura García-Portela*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


The topic of loss and damage has generated contentious debates in international policymaking and climate negotiations. Up until now, political agreements have been possible because of the use of ambiguous language in defining loss and damage. However, with the agreement of creating a specific fund for loss and damage reached in the last COP27, the need to define loss and damage becomes more pressing. This definition will not only determine to whom the funds will flow, but also what kind of measures will be funded. This paper contributes to clarifying these two issues. First, it proposes what should count, minimally, as loss and damage by specifying a minimal account of loss and damage based on the capabilities approach. This minimal account develops and justifies an ex-post perspective on loss and damage that is coherent with the UNFCCC discourse. Moreover, it proposes to differentiate between economic damage, non-economic losses, and non-economic damage. Second, it proposes a variety of reparative measures (material and symbolic) that should be implemented in response to different forms of loss and damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-193
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 24 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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