Climate Change

Climate change knowledge management in India

India’s climate adaptation needs are high but also diverse, given the bio-geographic and climate variations

By Dhanapal G
Published: Monday 13 May 2019

Knowledge management is an important component in technical assistance programmes on climate change, which aims to capture good practices for feeding into development policies and programmes and support capacity building.

India’s climate adaptation needs are high but also diverse given the bio-geographic and climate variations from the coasts to the Himalayan mountain ranges, and average annual rainfall pattern varying from 300 to 3,000 millimetre (mm).

There is a deficiency of knowledge products on climate change impacts, vulnerability assessment and cost effective adaptation and resilience planning. The PRECIS (Providing REgional Climates for Impact Studies) climate model, published in 2006 and revised in 2012, is still at a very coarse resolution, and the authors from the Indian Institute of Science acknowledge the limitations of climate models on assessing extreme climate projections that are important for adaptation planning.

The Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) — recently established by the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and Indian Institute for Tropical Meteorology, with the aim of developing an international coordinated framework to generate improved regional climate change projections world-wide — is yet publish usable climate change projections for developing adaptation plans in India.

In absence of information on climate change impacts and vulnerability assessment, State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) has come up with weak adaptation strategies and unrealistic cost estimates.

The Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has only about 33 knowledge products by itself and 14 by its partner organisation on the theme of adaptation and resilience for India. There is also very less documentary evidence on ecosystem-based approaches and traditional knowledge on climate adaptation.

The National Mission on Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change was made as one of the eight national missions in the right spirit. The mission’s objective was to develop knowledge on climate change that can cater to climate action plans.

Some objectives of the mission are — supporting research work on creating regional climate models to assess impacts on different ecological zones in the country, encouraging research and establishing research networks on impacts of climate change on key sectors (agriculture, health, biodiversity, oceans and coastal systems etc.), create institutional network for knowledge exchange and develop institutional and capacity and human resource development, and most important, provide inputs to other national missions.

However, a review of this mission’s performance, done in 2015, reports few gaps, pointing that there is no scope for participation of private sector in research and collaborations and partnerships for inter-disciplinary research and international cooperation on science and technology.

The mission on a positive side has helped set up knowledge management cells in almost all states to support the research and training activities for implementation of SAPCC. However, many of the state knowledge management cells are yet to add on repositories on research publications, accessible knowledge products in forms of policy brief, reports and videos.

Knowledge management on climate adaptation is very essential. In addition to refining the current models on impact assessments, successful pilot projects on adaptation must be promoted, documented and peer reviewed and such knowledge products must be disseminated in widest possible knowledge forums.

Scientists must also consider making their work on adaptation and resilience accessible and translate to easily understandable knowledge products like blogs and policy briefs. Workshops and meetings for knowledge sharing and presentation of best practices must be encouraged.

Further, South-South and North-South cooperation with developing and developed countries particularly on climate change impact assessments, including using integrated assessment models to assess economic impacts of climate change and evaluating cost benefit analysis of different adaptation options, is essential.

Exposure visits to countries that have demonstrated projects on climate change adaptation such as Bangladesh would help in knowledge exchange and peer learnings.

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