The revision of state action plans must be accompanied with a long-term strategy for effective climate actions
Scientific evidence and documentation of communities’ lived experiences reveal that climate-induced impacts in the form of extreme weather events are increasing. German Watch, a German think-tank, ranks India second globally for the number of fatalities occurred and fourth for revenue loss ($13,789.86 million) at purchasing power parity, as a result of extreme weather events in 2017.
Moreover, poor and vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected owing to livelihood-related greater dependence on natural resources. Tamil Nadu is a case in point — several researches confirm the increasing vulnerability of coastal communities and those on the Eastern Ghats.
In the Indian context, State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) serve as the primary policy document at the sub-national level to address vulnerabilities and increase resilience. To implement the plans and targets laid out under SAPCCs, several pilots and demonstration projects are conducted, with funds from designated agencies and by the national government under the National Adaptation Fund on Climate Change.
We refer to one such pilot / demonstration project. Between 2011 and 2013, under Indo-German bilateral cooperation, GIZ implemented an innovative pilot with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation on Integrated Mangrove Fish Farming.
By building bunds and developing new mangroves to provide a protective shield to the coastline from storm surges, cyclones and sea-level rise, the project focused on additional and sustainable sources of livelihoods to reduce vulnerabilities of communities. With the ensuing success, the project was later up-scaled using funds from the global Adaptation Fund Board and replicated in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Gaps and loopholes in SAPCC implementation
Based on our experiences of working with several state governments, we have identified certain challenges in the implementation of SAPCCs which needs careful re-consideration.
First, in most states SAPCCs have functioned as a stand-alone document with limited recognition of the activities of other line departments, which if integrated, can bring forth collective climate action.
Moreover, the scope of SAPCCs is largely restricted to state jurisdiction, without a clear vision at further de-centralised governance systems. Districts and cities are still largely neglected areas for climate action in the SAPCCs.
Second, pilots and demonstration projects, in general, have emerged as a useful tool, but nevertheless suffer from lack of in-built design of upscaling. We found that our practice with upscaling and replication of demonstration is not a prevalent one.
Further for undertaking climate actions and replication, while the focus is largely concentrated on finance, its access and its mobilisation within means of implementation and capacity building needs a greater focus. Building institutions and structures are crucial component of capacity building, an aspect largely marginalised.
With such limitations, SAPCCs have not been able to achieve the original intent of providing a directional shift in the business-as-usual development pathways.
With SAPCCs being revised with a view to national and global climate commitments, we offer a few recommendations in context of the above stated gaps.
Recommendations for climate actions
Studies confirm that climate-induced impacts are already manifesting and are expected to increase in the near future. Such impacts would translate into increased stress of resources and livelihoods, loss of human life and capital, increased risk of poverty entrapment and migration.
Such a scenario calls for urgent, integrated and effective climate actions where SAPCCS are a potentially impactful entry point. Against this backdrop, demonstrations and pilots by themselves, though useful, are not enough. To tackle the severity of the challenge of climate impacts, revision of SAPCCs must be accompanied with a long-term strategy for up-scaled and effective climate actions grounded in strengthened human and financial capacities as well as innovations in governance structures and institutions.
Ashish Chaturvedi, Vijeta Rattani and Kirtiman Awasthi work in Indo-German cooperation on Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management (ECCNRM) programme at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), New Delhi. Views expressed are personal.
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