On 28 October 2023, the world bid farewell to Prof. Saleemul Huq, a genuine climate pioneer whose contributions to climate change, environmental advocacy and sustainable development have left an indelible mark on our planet. Saleem was an unwavering force in the global fight against climate change. His leadership played a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of climate change and its impacts, and his work with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) significantly influenced international climate policy.
Saleem’s most notable legacy lies in his dedication to addressing climate-induced loss and damage. He passionately championed this cause, ultimately ensuring the inclusion of loss and damage in the Paris Agreement in 2015, and the establishment of a finance mechanism for loss and damage at the 27th Conference of Parties in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in 2022 – a testament to his enduring impact on global climate policy.
Saleem’s contributions extended far beyond the policy rooms, as he worked directly with vulnerable communities in the Global South, pioneering community-based and locally-led adaptation approaches and providing practical solutions for adaptation and resilience. His tireless efforts reshaped the discourse on climate adaptation, making it more inclusive, equitable and effective.
From the APN Secretariat, we are touched to have forged a relationship with Prof. Huq since 2013, permeating from APN’s Climate Adaptation Framework launched in the same year. The Asia-Pacific Loss and Damage Forum was subsequently launched under the CAF2013-01SY-Huq project, enabling a collaborative platform and virtual workspace for loss and damage knowledge sharing, a vibrant community which remains strongly active today. From here, APN has been privileged to establish further connections with Prof. Huq via the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), and through his position as Director:
- Partnership and engagement between ICCCAD and APN at global climate policy spaces, such as the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) 38th Session in Bonn, Germany (2013), and the UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt (2022).
- Gobeshona Global Conferences (2022 and 2023), hosted by ICCCAD, whereby APN presented in and organised sessions demonstrating capacity building on climate adaptation, and community- and locally-led climate adaptation activities across the Asia-Pacific region.
- Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation (APAN) Forums (2014, 2016 and 2023), whereby, most recently in 2023, Prof. Huq supported and participated in APN’s side events on locally-led adaptation as a keynote speaker.
- Climate Adaptation Framework special publication on the Linking Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Loss & Damage, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan and featuring a foreword by Prof. Huq.
Prof. Saleemul Huq’s work in transformational climate change adaptation has set a gold standard for the future. His legacy will continue to guide the path of climate science and policy for years to come.