From: Rwanda | Date: June 3, 2024

Written by:


Their Story

The changing of weather patterns due to warmer temperatures is worsening, and results in extreme weather events which include heat waves, floods, droughts, and tropical cyclones among others, as well as, the slow onset climatic processes such as sea level rise, loss of biodiversity, and desertification. These adverse effects of the climate crisis occur despite mitigation and adaptation approaches known as ‘loss and damage’.

Currently,  the biggest existential threat that the whole world is experiencing is the climate crisis which increases rapidly both in developed and developing countries and is affecting billions of people in the way, where some remain with no hope of surviving.  Sadly, the communities that contributed least to the climate crisis are the ones hit the most and are facing both non-economic loss and damage (NELD) such as loss of their culture due to migration, mental problems at high levels like trauma, loss of biodiversity and losing loved ones, as well as, the economic loss and damage including loss and damage of infrastructures, homes, crops swiped away among many others. 

Since mid-2023, I have been following discussions, reading, and listening to the news on Loss and Damage. These regular updates on the climate change-induced loss and damage happening in different regions around the world, but disproportionately affecting developing countries and the communities within them reminded me of the extreme weather events, flooding, and landslides that occurred in my country, Rwanda in early May 2023. These events hit the Western and Northern parts of Rwanda and the aftermath of the disaster was devastating, with many people losing their homes, businesses, and even their lives. The event led to the death of more than 130 people, around 18,000 people were displaced, more than 6000 homes were destroyed, and infrastructures such as roads, health centres, schools, bridges, and power stations, among others were damaged. The government and humanitarian organizations worked tirelessly to provide aid to those affected by the disaster, but it was clear that the impact would be long-lasting.

Climate-induced loss and damage is a reality!

Like Rwanda, many other countries from both the Global North and South are facing unprecedented loss and damage due to the climate crisis. To mention a few examples; this year only, in  Africa's southern parts, more than 24 million people face the effects of drought and floods driven by El Nino. As a result of this disaster, Zimbabweans needed more than US$2 billion to address the disaster effects. Also, more than 2 million hectares of crops have been damaged in Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Furthermore, heavy rainfall and floods have devastated East Africa, especially Kenya, and Tanzania where they encountered a cyclone called Hidaya killing around 400 people and forcing tens of thousands to leave their homes; 125 people got injured, 90 missed, and 165,500 people were displaced.  

If no urgent climate action is taken, the economic and non-economic costs of climate change impacts will keep escalating and affect the communities even more. According to a recent study, estimated costs of economic losses and damages only from the climate crisis amount to approximately US$671 billion in 2030. Thus, these estimates show the need for urgency in addressing loss and damage from both extreme weather and slow-onset events.

The progress that has been made so far and the role of youth in this journey

Developing countries have been advocating for climate justice since 1990 for they are primarily affected by the adverse impacts of climate change and contribute less compared to the rich nations. Discussions between countries finally led to progress on different fronts of Loss and Damage including finance, technical assistance needed, and capacity building among others. 

Young people and even children are among the most vulnerable groups to the effects of the climate crisis, they are not considered enough in the negotiation, they need to present their needs and demands for climate finance and justice, thus concrete actions to address loss and damage are needed to ensure that their future is safe from the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.

Youth engagement in advocating for addressing loss and damage is increasing over time and I have seen particularly the Loss and  Damage Youth Coalition (LDYC) which I am privileged to be part of working on different fronts to ensure that the advocacy around loss and damage reaches a wide range of stakeholders particularly the world leaders and other decision-makers. Their actions include the Loss and Damage finance campaign, training youth on Loss and Damage to equip them with the knowledge and skills needed in advocacy work.  Additionally,  other young people come together intending to ensure that the voices of future generations are accounted for in international decision-making processes.

Next steps: A call for concrete and urgent action!

Loss and damage is getting worse and will continue to harm vulnerable communities because it's beyond what they can do, so addressing loss and damage is an urgent situation of climate justice. Though it is clear that countries have been discussing the actions, there is still a very long way to go to ensure that loss and damage is addressed and that the communities that are most affected have enough resources and capacity they need to address it.

Young people from the Global North and South come together to fight for their future and the future of all those affected through advocacy so their voices can be heard. But there is still a long way to go. Many young people need to engage in the process and the decision-makers in the climate change sector need to hear the youth voices. In June 2024, the 60th session of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB 60) is taking place and it is another opportunity for countries to discuss further climate action to be taken. Young people are called on those who will attend, particularly the decision-makers to ensure that the discussions they will hold are in line with what will save the vulnerable communities on the frontlines of climate from bearing more consequences.

About the author: Amie Marie Flora DUSHIMUMUKIZA is a water and environmental engineer. She is a member of the Loss and  Damage Youth Coalition, an advocacy working group. Her passion for addressing climate change has led her to collaborate with fellow youth in advocating for climate justice, driven by her vision of creating a world with thriving and resilient communities.

Access Full List of Partners and Supporters Here

Connect with us

Stay up to date on our new campaigns & opportunities by following us on social media.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram