Ecosystem Based Adaptation is the way forward for India: WOTR

IPCC report is a clarion call for a wide range of complementary stakeholders need to come together including Governments, Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations While the report stresses on macro-level studies, the need in India is to substantially increase micro-level research.

New Delhi: The IPCC report released on Monday has abundantly suggested that the extent of climate impacts, risks and vulnerabilities of populations and natural systems are far greater than what was previously assessed.  The second part of the sixth assessment report by IPCC, the global body of scientists, has emphasised on urgently employing adaptation options while warning about multiple disasters emerging in different parts of the world.

WOTR welcomes the comprehensive report and has been working to enhance partnerships and collaborations while upscaling Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) across 9 states in around 5200 villages. The impact and potential of EbA in sequestering carbon and building resilience to climate change is based on concrete evidence across varied geographies.

For instance, two decades of intensive ecosystem-based projects in drought-prone areas of Maharashtra have shown results such as a 30% increase in the area of forest cover and plantations and 8-to-9-fold increase in agricultural income.  EbA led interventions have helped ensure that over 50% of the barren land is now cultivable and the soil carbon detachment has significantly reduced in the region.

“Across geographies, the requirements of every project under EbA are unique to the specific location, its biodiversity as well as the social and cultural fabric. Given the pace at which we need to act, any single agency or even a few working together, cannot respond adequately and effectively to the challenge. To make EbA a successful intervention, a wide range of complementary stakeholders need to come together and achieve a shared vision,” said Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee and co-founder WOTR.

The IPCC report highlights large gaps in the adaptation actions that are being taken and the efforts that are required.

“The IPCC report, however, lays emphasis on macro-level studies when the crying need is to spur micro-level applied research studies that take into consideration local community needs and expectations,” Crispino Lobo added.

The AR6 report highlights the inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge to address climate change and its effects in agriculture. The report also talks about gender roles in agriculture decision making. Inclusion of gender will promote the use of more indigenous and traditional knowledge and facilitate food and nutrition security. Indigenous knowledge will give an edge to the efforts for ecosystem restoration. Going with nature is the best suited way to adapt to and manage climate change. WOTR’s way of climate resilient agriculture (CRA) is based on indigenous and local knowledge to make agriculture sustainable and profitable.

WOTR believes that increasing financial support for adaptation in the form of incentives and grants, bringing it on par with mitigation, will help spur the introduction of such new technologies. This is exactly the vision with which WOTR has developed its FarmPrecise app to provide locale-specific and real-time agro-advisories to farmers. The stress on the need for investment in early warning services in the report is not only for disaster risk reduction for human settlements but also for the agriculture sector as well. WOTR’s experience suggests that timely provided agro-meteorological advisories and alerts can help farmers to save the crops in many incidences by following quick and appropriate agricultural practices.

The report makes a very interesting statement in saying vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change differs substantially among and within regions, driven by patterns of intersecting socioeconomic development, unsustainable ocean and land use, historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism, and governance. WOTR experts welcome this inclusion as it acknowledges the politics of development, highlights the need for inclusive governance and calls out extractive forms of growth. This link between development and adaptation is also essential to understand the underlying vulnerabilities and bring in synergies between climate action and the achievement of the SDGs.

Groundwater, a lifeline and backbone of rural India, is under severe threat as the overall runoff and recharge cycle has been highly affected due to increasingly erratic rainfall. WOTR’s extensive research and advocacy on farm pond schemes and reducing its ill effects on groundwater and its privatization are relevant in this context. The research focus and contribution in areas of demand-side water management and soil health has made an immense contribution to reducing the vulnerabilities of the huge population living in arid and semiarid regions.

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