Postgraduate research opportunity

How to enhance climate governance to achieve effective funding for 'loss and damage' at the local level

Sustainable Transitions - Governance, Ecological Management and Society - Leverhulme Doctoral Training Programme 2024-25


Project area title: How to enhance climate governance to achieve effective funding for 'loss and damage' at the local level

Course: Applicants wanting to undertake this research project should apply for a PhD in Accounting

Funding: The University of Essex is offering six PhD research scholarships for students to participate in one of our Sustainable Transitions DTP projects.


This is an opportunity to conduct fully funded interdisciplinary research under the Sustainable Transitions Leverhulme Doctoral Training Programme at the University of Essex.

The project will focus on the exploration of solutions to aspects of the development of ‘loss and damange’ climate funding and support at the local level. Supervision for this project will be led by Essex Business School with secondary supervision from Essex Law School.

The efforts to establish 'loss and damage’ climate funding to aid countries impacted by climate disasters underscore the need for collective approaches to transform financial institutions and governmental practices to ensure that support meets local needs. Structural challenges such as resource distribution, access to finance, corruption, multilevel governance systems and participation in decision-making can all complicate 'loss and damage’ implementation for disadvantaged or vulnerable communities at the local level.

More specifically analysis is required to consider the component factors that contribute to the facilitation of ‘loss and damage’ support for local communities in developing countries. This can include the sources of finance and support and their adequacy, the governance systems that facilitate the distribution of that finance and support, the governance mechanisms associated with that distribution process, and the accountability of actors at all levels. Analysis is required of the extent to which existing systems are effective and how they can be improved or redesigned.

Interdisciplinary focus

The interdisciplinarity of this project area lies in the role that governance, accountability, and law all play in the outcomes at the local level relating to ‘loss and damage’ climate funding. Therefore, the design of effective systems to respond to the challenges faced by local level communities requires interdisciplinary cooperation, approaches and research methods.

Training and support

You will be supported through the Sustainable Transitions training programme which provides initial training in interdisciplinary research methods, training in the secondary discipline within the project area, and ongoing training throughout the duration of the programme. All doctoral scholars benefit from the support of Proficio, which entitles you to £2,500 that can be used to purchase training courses either within or external to the University. Additionally, all scholars are entitled to an additional £10,000 that can be used to cover research costs and further training. Doctoral scholars are encouraged to audit/attend University masters and degree level courses where appropriate. You will also have the support of the Sustainable Transitions management team as well as your own supervisory team. All Sustainable Transitions scholars will become part of the University of Essex Centre for Environment and Society through which ongoing events and networking opportunities are available.

Person specification

This opportunity would suit a candidate with a masters level education that incorporated governance and/or business accountability. The candidate should have an interest in law although a legal education is not a requirement. The successful candidate will be interested in developing solutions to the barriers in achieving ‘loss and damage’ finance at the local levels.

Research proposal

The project area is broadly defined, leaving scope for the applicant to develop their own specific research proposal as part of the application. The successful candidate will further develop their proposal in close consultation with the supervisory team.


The primary discipline supervisor takes the lead responsibility for supervising the project. For further detail relating to supervision see the Guidance for Applicants (.pdf) document.

Additional background information

The recent decisions made at COP 27 and COP 28 to establish 'loss and damage’ climate funding for countries severely impacted by climate disasters highlight the global commitment to supporting developing nations in their efforts to combat climate change. These decisions underscore the urgent need for a collective effort to transform financial institutions, intermediaries, and governments to secure annual investments ranging from USD 4-6 trillion, essential for effectively addressing the climate challenge.

In addition to external financing, it is crucial to address structural issues such as resource allocation, mobilization of domestic resources, policy coherence, corruption, and equitable distribution of resources across various levels. Governments at all levels face limitations in resources and authority when tackling climate change, emphasizing the importance of analysing bottom-up approaches and exploring opportunities to access resources effectively.

Undoubtedly, greater attention is also needed to understand how global practices such as 'loss and damage' climate funding can be effectively implemented to enable local authorities to respond to their challenges. Investing in and empowering actors at each level of governance is crucial to establish a sustainable and impactful approach to address climate change adaptation and ‘loss and damage’ more generally.

Within each of these different types of challenges, there are aspects that have a legal or a quasi-legal dimension. The legal components of governance relating to ‘loss and damage’ climate funding can have a significant influence on the outcomes at the local level.

Furthermore, fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing among diverse stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations, academia, and local communities, is essential for ensuring comprehensive and effective climate action. By leveraging collective expertise and resources, there are more possibilities to enhance resilience and adaptation measures, mitigate climate-related risks, and work towards achieving a more sustainable future for all. This collaborative work is vital in addressing the multifaceted challenges of climate change and creating a resilient and sustainable world for future generations.

Supervisory team references

  1. T. Arun (2016) Handbook of Research on Green Economic Development Initiatives and Strategies - Practice, Progress, and Proficiency in Sustainability, IGI Global (co- edited with M.Erdodu and I.H.Ahmad)
  2. B. Upadhyaya, C. Wijethilake and P. Adhikari, K. Jayasinghe and Thankom Arun (2022) "Integrating Climate Change and livelihood within Public Investment Policies: A Cross Country Assessment in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka and Nepal)”, PEFA, World Bank.
  3. B. Upadhyaya, C. Wijethilake and P. Adhikari and Thankom Arun (2023) Peoples participation is a must in climate programmes, World Bank Blogs on Governance for Development.
  4. Stephen J. Turner (2017), ‘The Use of Macro Legal Analysis in the Understanding and Development of Global Environmental Governance’ 6 (2) Transnational Environmental Law 237-257.
  5. Stephen J. Turner (2014), ‘A Global Environmental Right’ (Earthscan by Routledge) 2014.