Linking grassroots action to policy debate

26 November 2010 | News story

8-9 November 2010, Chennai, India For effective action towards combating climate change there is a need to ensure that the national and international policies, strategies and actions are fully informed by the results, outcomes and perspectives coming from field actions in climate change.

Towards achieving this, a regional consultative workshop was conducted jointly by IUCN, along with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Development Alternatives (DA) and Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR) in Chennai on 8 – 9th November, to discuss the key identified thematic areas – Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), food, water and energy security, and key focus agro-climatic regions – coastal areas, arid and semi-arid regions and the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).

The workshop brought together participants from central, state and local government organizations, international and regional organizations and institutions, academic and research institutions, non-governmental organizations, as well as farmers. This was in pursuit of the ultimate goal of finding solutions to climate change, in accordance with the National Action Plan on Climate Change and by linking voices and lessons of grassroot communities to policy dialogue, science and knowledge sharing.

As Matadin, a farmer from Baruasagar village, Bundelkhand, India stated, “people’s own knowledge systems, their wisdom and their participation in the whole process of planning and implementation are important.”

IUCN, represented by Dr J.S. Rawat and Ms Emma Burgess, conducted a parallel session on the key issues and challenges of Climate Change in the IHR. It was agreed that due to global warming, the IHR has been experiencing higher than global average increase in temperature, along with snow and rainfall becoming more unpredictable and variable. The resulting decline in agricultural production, water shortages and biodiversity loss is likely to threaten livelihood, food, water and energy security of the communities relying solely on these resources for survival. Despite the National, State as well as local Governments having put various policy measures in place to address the issues and challenges associated with climate change, comprehensive strategies for effective monitoring of the vulnerability of the IHR ecosystem and its associated local communities, a prerequisite to strengthen the social and ecological resilience to cope with and adapt to the impacts of climate change, are lacking. It has also identified the gaps in knowledge and stressed the need for utilizing ecosystem based adaptation strategies and initiating regional cooperation for tackling the problems of climate change in Himalayas.

The outcome of this two day consultative workshop was the draft ‘Chennai Action Plan,’ a document which lays out suggested commitments for policy makers to take forward to enhance and enrich the implementation of the National and State level Action Plans on Climate Change.