Operationalisation of Santiago Network on Loss & Damage

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 30/05/2022

What scope is there in para.9(b) and (f) of decision 19/CMA.3, setting out the SNLD’s functions, and in the text establishing the SNLD in para.43 of decision 2/CMA.2 to argue for a role for the coordinating body for the SNLD that goes beyond catalysing technical assistance? Is that scope limited and if so, how is it limited and what strategies can be used to overcome this?


In our view, the term “catalyse” does not have to be read in a limited way to only reference coordination and facilitation, rather than undertaking actions itself. We think it is open for Parties to develop terms of reference for the functions of the secretariat that include the provision of technical assistance in response to requests from developing country parties. However, if such functions are conferred on the secretariat, it will need to be hosted by an organisation with capacity to undertake such work.

Although Decision 1/CP.16, which sets out the functions of the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTNC), uses the language ‘providing advice and support in relation to the identification of technology needs …’, we would recommend looking to the functions undertaken by the CTCN and using that as the model to call for a more active and engaged secretariat for the delivery of technical assistance.


Both para 43 of Decision 2/CMA.2 and para 9 of Decision 19/CMA.3 highlight the role of the Santiago Network as being to “catalyse” the technical assistance of relevant organisations, bodies, networks and experts (OBNE). Having regard to its ordinary meaning, a “catalyst” or to “catalyse” involves causing an action or process to begin.

In the context of the role of the Santiago Network, the network is intended to bring about the delivery of technical assistance by relevant OBNEs to implement approaches to loss and damage at different levels (para 43). This function was elaborated upon in Decision 19/CMA.3 where para 9 states:

Decides that the Santiago network is to have the following functions:


(b) Catalysing demand-driven technical assistance, including of relevant organizations, bodies, networks and experts, for the implementation of relevant approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change by assisting in:

 (i) Identifying, prioritizing and communicating technical assistance needs and priorities; 

(ii) Identifying types of relevant technical assistance; 

(iii) Actively connecting those seeking technical assistance with best suited organizations, bodies, networks and experts; 

(iv) Accessing technical assistance available, including from such organizations, bodies, networks and experts; 


(f) Facilitating, through catalysing technical assistance of organizations, bodies, networks and experts, access to action and support (finance, technology and capacity building), under and outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement, relevant to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including urgent and timely responses to the impacts of climate change;

It is clear that the role of the Santiago network is to bring about action or processes and facilitate access to action and support, including through identifying needs and priorities; identifying types of technical assistance that may be provided; connecting and “matchmaking” those seeking advice with experts; and accessing technical assistance itself.

Whether the Santiago network can go further, and provide greater levels of support, including potentially providing this technical assistance itself, will ultimately depend upon the means by which the network is operationalised, including its structure, operational modalities and terms of reference.

Decision 19/CMA.3 does not provide any explicit guidance on the structure and operational modalities for the Santiago network.  Instead, it requested submissions from Parties and relevant organisations on these matters.  Those submissions were provided in March 2022.

Most submissions contemplate the structure for the network to include a secretariat (hosted by a suitable international organisation), an advisory board and the network of member OBNEs, with some Parties also highlighting the role of designated national contact or focal points. The network would then report to the ExCom, and some Parties also see a role for representation of the ExCom on the advisory board.

Having regard to the responses to submissions, it would appear that most parties are comfortable with the network adopting an organisational structure similar to the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN).  It is therefore useful to look at the role of the CTCN as mandated by the Parties in Decision 1/CP.16 which states at para 123:

Decides that the Climate Technology Centre shall facilitate a network of national, regional, sectoral and international technology networks, organizations and initiatives with a view to engaging the participants of the Network effectively in the following functions:

(a) At the request of a developing country Party:

(i) Providing advice and support related to the identification of technology needs and the implementation of environmentally sound technologies, practices and processes;

(ii) Facilitating the provision of information, training and support for programmes to build or strengthen capacity of developing countries to identify technology options, make technology choices and operate, maintain and adapt technology;

(iii) Facilitating prompt action on the deployment of existing technology in developing country Parties based on identified needs;

(b) Stimulating and encouraging, through collaboration with the private sector, public institutions, academia and research institutions, the development and transfer of existing and emerging environmentally sound technologies, as well as opportunities for North–South, South–South and triangular technology cooperation;

(c) Facilitating a network of national, regional, sectoral and international technology centres, networks, organization and initiatives with a view to:

(i) Enhancing cooperation with national, regional and international technology centres and relevant national institutions;

(ii) Facilitating international partnerships among public and private stakeholders to accelerate the innovation and diffusion of environmentally sound technologies to developing country Parties;

(iii) Providing, at the request of a developing country Party, in-country technical assistance and training to support identified technology actions in developing country Parties;

(iv) Stimulating the establishment of twinning centre arrangements to promote North–South, South–South and triangular partnerships, with a view to encouraging cooperative research and development;

(v) Identifying, disseminating and assisting with developing analytical tools, policies and best practices for country-driven planning to support the dissemination of environmentally sound technologies;

(d) Performing other such activities as may be necessary to carry out its functions;

The CTCN works across three main areas:

  • providing technical assistance at the request of developing countries to accelerate the transfer of climate technologies;
  •  creating access to information and knowledge on climate technologies; and
  • fostering collaboration among a network of stakeholders.

The way in which technical assistance is provided by the CTCN is primarily through mobilisation of the global network of experts. However, the CTCN appears to be closely involved in the convening of teams and the provision of that technical assistance.

When we look to the potential terms of reference for the network, beyond those expressly stated in para 43 of Decision 2/CMA.2 and para 9 of Decision 19/CMA.3, Parties have raised a range of potential functions.  These including providing a broker or matchmaker service between countries and experts; providing a clearing house for information and knowledge exchange; and providing targeted capacity building. We note that the focus of countries such as the EU, Norway, the US and Canada has been on the secretariat connecting those seeking technical assistance with experts. For example, the EU submission states that ‘the secretariat does not have an implementing role but should catalyse the efforts of OBNEs’. However, other countries, including Australia have suggested the secretariat could itself provide technical assistance in response to requests from LDCs. 

Having regard to the range of functions raised in submissions, we do not think that it would be unreasonable for Parties to argue that the functions of the secretariat extend beyond ‘matchmaking’. It remains open to the Parties, in developing the terms of reference for the network, to include any activities that provide access to action and support. If the international body which is selected to host the secretariat has the capability to provide technical assistance in its own right or to be more closely involved in the coordination of assistance, then we would see no reason why this should not be enabled.

If Parties are minded to call for a more ‘hands on’ approach for the secretariat, then when looking to select the host of the secretariat, the institutional capacity of the organisation to deliver technical assistance in respect to loss and damage should be included in the call for expressions of interest.