Knowledge Networking to Address Climate Change Impacts and Disaster Risks by Engaging Local Groups and Institutions to Localise Actions

Multiple Authors
A community discussion
Village-level interaction in a community in Himachal Pradesh. Photo by Dr. Suresh Attri.

Summary

Himachal Pradesh recently re-notified the existing Disaster Risk Reduction platform to the State Knowledge Platform for Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction (SKPCCDRR). This article summarises the Government of Himachal Pradesh’s efforts to incorporate climate change and disaster risk reduction issues at the highest levels of governance. By taking this felicitous initiative, the state becomes the first in the country to bring these two critical domains together on a single platform.

This article discusses how the state government transformed the administrative and technical outlook to institutionalize the state’s knowledge network and mainstream SDG 13 (climate action) in the planning process.

This weADAPT article is an abridged version of the original text, which can be downloaded from the right-hand column. Please access the original text for more detail, research purposes, full references, or to quote text.

Introduction

India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) emphasize better adaptation measures to deal with the impacts of climate change by increasing investments in climate-vulnerable sectors. Available data and its assessment clearly reveal that there is a significant gap in knowledge and information about climate change vulnerability at the local level and in the state’s natural resources. In order to address these climate change issues, there is a need for trained human resources, institutional frameworks, and policy imperatives from time to time both technically and financially. The Drishti Himachal Pradesh-2030: Sustainable Development Goals document of state clearly spells out the priorities well in line with the NDCs to work effectively at the state level.

The state of Himachal Pradesh’s economy has grown dramatically since 1971. Even though nearly 90% of the state’s population lives in rural areas, there is a high optimization of urbanization, which is arising rapidly as common villages are also developing very fast. The vision 2030 document of Himachal Pradesh aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next decade. To achieve its natural resource management goals, the state has shifted policy priorities from the “Conservation Approach” to the “Efficient Management Approach.” Increased in forest density and cover, development of watersheds, and efficient use of natural resources are prioritized.

Systematic monitoring, documentation, and research are the need of the hour. There are inferences and observed changes in climatic conditions, but more scientific evidence is needed to empirically understand the impact of climate change now and in the future. Local strategies are to be prepared well if collated and analyzed on a primary data basis.

Analysis of priority and vulnerable sectors, specific to agriculture, biodiversity, and other natural resources have been done at the block level. Synergies exist in the integration of climate change measures into state policies, but this still needs improvement and more coordination for local-level execution.

To achieve the SDGs by 2030 or earlier, a change in approach with an emphasis on convergence, coordination, governance, and technology application to improve governance is imperative. Changes in the developmental strategy, reorienting it to the changing developmental needs of communities, largely guided by the economic, social, and technological transitions occurring at national and global levels, required to be translated to local firsthand.

Rationale for mainstreaming climate action

With a vision to synthesize the existing database and explore the potential of applying scientific knowledge, the government of Himachal Pradesh has put forth an effort to promote climate advocacy at the local level. It has been envisioned under the State Action Plan on Climate Change‘s Mission on Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change, and state targets related to SDG13.3, that improved coordination and proper knowledge networking across state/district-level institutions engaged in research, practice, and policy discussion related to climate change are desirable. The state is endowed and blessed with a distinct and varied topography but is predominantly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and often faces a huge number of losses due to climate-induced disasters. Climate change vulnerability & disaster risk reduction are facets of the same coin and should not be looked at independently. There is a necessity to bring these two facets on a common platform for better results in terms of resilience.

Knowledge network on climate change & disaster risk reduction in Himachal Pradesh

The state of Himachal Pradesh is evolving mechanisms to integrate climate change (CC) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) issues into State policies and programmes. Climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction-related programmes require further improvement through better coordination and networking among key stakeholders. Because the state is endowed with a concentration of prestigious academic and research institutions, it has enormous potential for collaboration with civil society, and government agencies, apart from research institutions.

On the behest of GIZ as part of the Indo-German Technical Cooperation Project, “Climate Adaptation & Finance in Rural India (CAFRI)” through HP Knowledge Cell on Climate Change (HPKCCC) at the Department of Environment, Science & Technology, (DEST), a State Knowledge Platform for Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction (SKPCCDRR) was created by Government of Himachal Pradesh with a vision to promote multi-stakeholder engagement and ensure an effective participatory decision-making process that facilitates the climate change and disaster risk reduction measures in the state.

In order to operationalize & initiate activities related to climate change and disaster risk reduction, the State Government has prepared & adopted a robust roadmap for Knowledge Networking on Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction* with the following objectives:

  • Promote dialogue, and knowledge exchange by creating a regional knowledge-sharing system
  • Facilitate collection of new & existing knowledge on climate change adaptation & mitigation
  • Facilitate the application of climate change knowledge through policymaking through an established science-policy interface

*This roadmap can be downloaded from the right-hand column.

Though Himachal Pradesh is taking lead in addressing emergent issues concerning climate change and attempting to plough on with sub-national action with due dedication & political will, it still needs to further build upon existing knowledge networking. For this, DEST, which is the climate change nodal department, has worked out possible options/criteria to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders at the sub-national level.

Based on a set of agreed criteria, the state has identified potential stakeholders/knowledge partners amongst research institutions/academia/Administrative departments at the sub-national level. Each knowledge partner has a defined role, function, and responsibilities within the network.

Overall, the operation of the Knowledge Network has been backed up by thematic working groups across different cross-cutting sectors. To initiate the dialogue, thematic working expert groups have been constituted in priority sectors like agriculture & horticulture, energy (renewable energy/energy efficiency), health- epidemics, water, forests, waste management (with respect to technology & innovations), best practices, research, etc. for effective policy & programme formulation.

The working groups’ primary focus is on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction & related sectors, knowledge synthesis, research needs & assess gaps.

The roadmap for Knowledge Networking on Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction (see featured download) provides a comprehensive list of thematic areas, and cross-cutting topics around which the HPKNCC is required to function (see page 14), and an indicative list of themes, including cross-cutting topics, around which the HPKNCC functions and works.

Focus areas

Under this knowledge network, the expert groups are to work jointly with the relevant department to undertake knowledge partnerships in the respective domains. The working groups need to focus on three elements providing new & existing knowledge, looking for new data and primarily focusing on priorities under the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC), State Vision 2030 (Drishti 2030), and State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP).

The first element focusses on creating & promoting an effective knowledge-sharing system. DEST has already advanced with regard to capacitating resource persons/experts in association with the State’s training institute (e.g., HIPA, SIRD, PRTI).[1] The trained leaders are to work towards mobilizing expert knowledge through research-oriented actions. If any sector requires any technical support, that is to be provided with the help of this expert pool. The entire process is coordinated by the Department of Environment, Science & Technology, GoHP, and complements the Digital Climate Change Reference Centre (DCCRC)[2] in DEST.

In order to ensure administrative alliance and realise policy intervention, the CC & DRR Network functions, and activities are overseen and monitored at the level of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, being Chairperson of the State Level Steering Committee of Knowledge Platform with members of all Administrative Secretaries to provide strategic direction, vision to the entire process of institutionalization, and implementation of various actions of knowledge network in the state.

[1] HIPA: Himachal Pradesh institute of Public Administration; SIRD: State Institute of Rural Development; PRTI: Panchayati Raj Training Institute

[2] CM of#HimachalPradesh Shri Jai Ram Thakur acknowledges@giz_india for supporting the state in implementing the#IndoGerman project – Climate Adaptation and Finance in Rural India (CAFRI):https://twitter.com/giz_india/status/1371544303823069187

Finance

The most important aspect of the process is to mobilize financial resources to ensure the sustainability of the entire climate change action & related programmes. Activities certainly require resources, and financial mechanisms and possible ways to explore resources are through the convergence of various activities under the planned budget and from the GIA (Grant in Aid), Government of India (GoI) under various Ministries, and the State resources allocated for the climate change sector annually.

The HPKNCC & DRR activities are also undertaken with support from bilateral donors and partners both in financial & technical terms. The Nodal Department also aims to engage with core funding agencies for long-term and medium-term programmes.

Way forward

Considering the functional domain of various sectors, the Climate Change Knowledge Cell in DEST mapped National, Regional level key institutions from the Academia/Research, NGOs, and multilateral /bilateral organizations for Innovation & Policy side inputs and has started engaging them through dialogue on various aspects. The Government of Himachal Pradesh must as a next step start synthesizing and collecting primary databases. It must collect, invite information, and collate on previously published papers, and research on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The proposal can also include involving young scientists to disseminate knowledge in the field of climate change adaptation at the local level to make local communities better prepared for future needs.

Related weADAPT Articles:

Suggested Citation:

Attri et al, (2021), “Himachal Pradesh: Knowledge Network on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction,” GIZ, CAFRI, Government of Himachal Pradesh.