SDC/IHCAP: This report looks at the interventions that the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation programme can make in the policy sphere to advance the cause of adaptations to climate change effects and sustainable development in the Himalayas. The principal findings of this preliminary report are two:
- There are policy prescriptions at the Government of India and State Government levels that advance these goals, but there are existing policies, mainly at the State Government and Municipality/Panchayat levels that are not in consonance with these policy prescriptions,
- There are significant implementation gaps even when policies at the Central, State and local Government levels are in consonance.
Based on these findings, this report makes three recommendations for the IHCAP programme:
- To carry out a detailed policy analysis in key areas such as water, urbanization, transport, tourism etc. so that the exact points of policy dissonance and implementation gaps can be identified.
- After doing this detailed policy analysis, to use the findings to carry out capacity building workshops at State, Municipality and Panchayat levels for lawmakers, bureaucrats, members of the civil society and the media, so that they are made aware of these points of dissonance and implementation gaps and can take or advocate corrective steps,
- To supplement existing activities such as building environmental awareness, through activities in educational institutions and with the help of the media Following discussions with officials in the Government of India for this report, it is recommended that the Ministry of Environment and Forests be the coordinating agency for the policy aspect of the IHCAP programme, and that the IHCAP works closely with this ministry while implementing the programme in the field.
The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) spreads across 0.53 million square kilometres, comprising 16.2% of India’s geographical area. It controls the climate of South Asia by forming a barrier to the annual monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean, feeds the sub-continent’s perennial rivers and is a rich reservoir of biodiversity.
Sustainable development of the IHR in the face of climate change and threats to biodiversity is critical for South Asia.
The Government of India (GoI) has developed a holistic plan for this purpose, called the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE). The mission plans to address the important issues concerning the effects of climate change on Himalayan glaciers and associated hydrological consequences downstream; biodiversity conservation and protection; ensuring livelihoods and improving the standard of living of people who live in the IHR; and community-based planning and management that will sustain this ecosystem.
With the effects of climate change already making themselves felt in this region, as elsewhere, and with these effects projected to accelerate in the coming years, adaptation to these effects is an integral part of the NMSHE plan. While the Ministry of Science and Technology, GoI, is the nodal ministry for the NMSHE, plans for adaptation are also being coordinated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoE&F) and are to be implemented by the state governments in the IHR. Many of the adaptation plans also require the active involvement of the civil society and individuals.
Recognizing the enormous challenge of climate change for the IHR, the Division of Climate Change and Development, Embassy of Switzerland in India, is developing a new programme called the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP). The IHCAP is under the Global Programme of Climate Change supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The outline of the programme is being developed in consultation and with inputs from several organisations including GoI and some State Governments in the IHR.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>