Forests and Natural Ecosystem Policies and Programmes: Implications for Adaptation under a Changing Climate- Sambal member upload

This study reviews existing policies, plans and programmes, the planning processes and climate change actions undertaken by the Bihar State administration to identify key areas of focus in order to determine further studies/initiatives.

BY: Deepak Kumar
Original Source / Author: ACT & OPML 08 Jan, 2018
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Climate change is a major global environmental and developmental challenge and is an issue of great concern to all countries and regions irrespective of their size or level of development. Although a lot on climate change and the related impacts is yet to be understood, it is now unequivocally established through global scientific assessment that climate change is "happening" and it is happening at a brisk pace. A study by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF, 2010) in India has highlighted the severity of the impact of climate change on food production, water resource availability, forest biodiversity, and coastal zones, even in the short-term period of 2030s. India is considered highly vulnerable to climate change, not only because of high physical exposure to climate-related disasters (65 percent of India is drought prone, 12 percent flood prone, and 8 percent susceptible to cyclones), but also because of the dependency of its economy and majority of population on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, forests, tourism, animal husbandry and fisheries. India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC, 2008) maintains categorically that "climate change may alter the distribution and quality of India’s natural resources and adversely affect the livelihood of its people. With an economy closely tied to its natural resources base and climate-sensitive, sectors such as agriculture, water and forestry, it may face a major threat." The above concerns on the degree of climate vulnerability of the various natural resource sectors and large sections of society make a stronger case for government ‘planned adaptation’ interventions. As reversing the wheel of carbon accumulation through mitigation measures takes considerable period of time, adaptation is a natural choice of staying in and coping with the irreversible changes.

The Stern Report (2006) in particular has confirmed the proposition that "the benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs". As per the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007), adaptation is a well thought-out effective tool to address various impacts resulting from warming, already unavoidable due to bygone emissions and emerging emissions that go unchecked. Hence, there is a need for government driven "planned" adaptation measures, policy framework and strategies, and subsequently its specific as well as larger implementation.

Given the inherent costs involved, adaptation should be pursued not as an end in itself, but as a means to meet the development objectives, by factoring in climate risks in development planning and considering a range of interventions that will increase their resilience to climate change.

Climate proofing of vulnerable sectors, programmes, natural systems and communities by integrating adaptation and mitigation options into planning process and interventions are increasingly becoming an integral part of development. The basic premise on which this could happen is the national and sectoral policies that govern any programme and action implemented on ground.

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