COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber has hailed a “historic” victory as world leaders agreed to a Loss and Damage Fund to support the poorest and most vulnerable countries cope with climate-related impacts on day one of COP28 in Dubai.
Initial contributions to the fund add up to just over $400m – a far cry from the hundreds of trillions of dollars in climate damages expected in the coming years, but a positive development nonetheless.

The Loss and Damage Fund was first introduced at COP27, where it was celebrated as a major “breakthrough”. However, a lack of consensus over the fund’s terms, such as where it should be based and who should fund it, led to a year of tortured discussions over the course of five meetings.

One major point of contention centred around whether or not the fund should be hosted by the World Bank. Developing countries argued that the bank lacked the necessary independence from the US, which has pushed for funding to be delivered on a “voluntary” basis. This summer, the World Bank elected a new leader, Ajay Banga, whose candidacy was backed by US President Joe Biden.

Earlier in November, leaders signed a draft agreement for the Loss and Damage Fund, in which they agreed that the World Bank would host the fund on a temporary basis, for four years.

Speaking at COP28 on Thursday, COP President Sultan Al Jaber highlighted the unprecedented speed with which a decision on the Loss and Damage Fund was made: “We’ve delivered history today. The first time a decision has been adopted on day one of any COP,” he told the crowd, which erupted into applause.

“This is evidence that we can deliver. COP28 can deliver. And colleagues, this now sets a clear ambition for us to deliver a comprehensive GST [Global Stocktake] decision over the next 12 days,” he added.

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Germany along with host COP28 host the United Arab Emirates led the way in delivering first contributions to the fund, with both countries pledging $100m each towards it. The UK, US and Japan pledged smaller contributions, at $50.5m, $17.5m and $10m respectively.