25 September 2023: ClimateRISE Alliance, a collaborative platform dedicated to accelerating India’s journey towards climate resilience for its most vulnerable communities, launched its compendium, ‘Interwoven Futures: How Civil Society Organisations Can Accelerate India’s Journey towards Climate Resilience’, at the Dasra Philanthropy Forum in New York. This comprehensive collection of 15 case studies displays efforts of civil society organisations (CSOs) across India, who are at the forefront of intersectional climate action at the grassroots level.
The compendium provides a detailed exploration of the intertwined challenges of climate change and its impact on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It emphasizes the critical role of CSOs in driving transformative change, bridging the gap between climate challenges and sustainable development goals. For each of the pivotal SDGs (SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 15: Life on Land, and SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals), the compendium offers insights into innovative climate solutions, advocating for a collaborative approach involving governments, CSOs, and philanthropic entities.
India, ranked as the fifth most vulnerable nation among 181 countries, faces multifaceted challenges from climate change, ranging from floods and droughts to air pollution. These adversities threaten food security, biodiversity, and could potentially trigger mass migrations. The marginalized communities, unfortunately, withstand the worst of these challenges, despite contributing the least to the crisis.
As the compendium delves into the various interventions by CSOs, a recurring theme is the importance of local action. Recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by individual communities is paramount. In this context, Avinash Krishnamurthy, Director of Biome Environmental Trust, remarked, “It is important to understand what is happening locally and build the capacity of institutes up to the ward level to respond to climate change.”
These diverse solutions implemented by CSOs, emphasizing their interconnectedness with broader social and economic challenges. Featured organisations such as Rythu Sadhikara Samstha (RySS), Professional Assistance for Developmental Action (PRADAN), Pragati Abhiyan, Waste Warriors Society, Mahila Housing Trust, Buzz Women, Reap Benefit, Centre for Wildlife Studies, Swayam Shikshan Prayog, Technology for Wildlife, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Foundation for Ecological Society, Janaagraha, Biome Environmental Trust, SELCO Foundation are pioneering:
Transitioning to more holistic approaches such as natural farming and agro-ecology that emphasizes the integration of ecological principles into farming practices
Building effective policy-praxis interfaces and strengthening the resilience of India’s healthcare infrastructure to deal with the burgeoning health impacts of the climate crisis
Determining frameworks for or responsive city planning; and collaborative and integrated systems of urban governance which enables cities to respond to and withstand a wide range of climate shocks
Implementing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) at scale in sectors like protecting existing natural ecosystems, ecological restoration, nature-based adaptation, nature-based city planning, and agroforestry with the aim to provide sustainable and effective alternatives to resource-intensive solutions
Equipping women with the knowledge to adapt to changing environmental conditions; mainstreaming gender-inclusive policies that recognize women’s roles as caregivers, farmers, and community leaders; scaling financial resources and technical support to women-led initiatives; and encouraging participation in decision-making processes are crucial strategies for enabling women to lead the charge on climate action.
Highlighting the critical role of women in steering climate action, Bijal Brahmbhatt, Director of Mahila Housing Trust, commented, “Mahila Housing Trust has consistently promoted a community-based resilience model that is women-led. We envision women as proactive agents of climate action, not just as passive victims.”
The Path Ahead:
Given India’s pronounced vulnerability to climate change and its significant impact on the SDGs, it is imperative for all stakeholders to unite. The government, CSOs, and philanthropic entities must converge their efforts for a holistic approach.
The government should integrate intersectionality of climate in policymaking, identify and collaborate proactively with CSOs to mainstream community needs and reassess public budget allocation and utilization towards climate action
CSOs should embed a climate lens across existing programs and intentionally collaborate with other organisations and stakeholders to scale best practices and cross-learnings
Philanthropic organisations should invest in climate action with urgency, while adopting an intersectional and intersectoral approach and move away from project-based funding to long-term impact towards sustained climate action
This compendium, built upon Dasra and ORF’s extensive climate report, presents an opportunity for collective, transformative action, emphasizing the power of collaboration in addressing the multifaceted challenges of the climate crisis.