In recent years, amidst the wave of global climate consciousness and the resounding declaration by COP 26 in Glasgow to curtail India’s total projected carbon emissions by 2070, a discernible transformation has been set in motion. An imperative impetus now exists to propel the integration and implementation of climate action policies across diverse industries such as transportation, food systems, and power generation. To a considerable extent, this undertaking necessitates a profound structural metamorphosis within our economic framework.
One of the ways to fill this capacity gap is by promoting new startups that can work in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Community participation can also be a key ally in endeavours targeted to attain climate neutrality. Through this symbiotic association, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and communities operationalising plans get better equipped to apply research into action for the community they intend to serve.
However, in this context, the vital question that lies ahead is how to navigate the landscape while acknowledging certain challenges, such as the absence of favourable policies, infrastructure, and regulations that persist as barriers to engaging citizens in climate action and planning.
Within the expansive network of CSOs, an extensive array of organisations are engaged in endeavours to enhance the urban climate resilience landscape. These organisations harness the power of community-based approaches, employing strategies to bolster the resilience of individuals and locales alike. Committed to effecting tangible change, they endeavour to augment resource availability and mobilization, while actively undertaking initiatives such as community education and the implementation of green infrastructure. Nonetheless, the magnitude of the task at hand necessitates further concerted efforts to adequately address the exigencies of the present circumstances.
Here are some ways to address and overcome the aforementioned setbacks:
Budget Allocation and Resource Planning
The lack of access to essential services such as infrastructure, healthcare, social protection, and financial services are key indicators of susceptibility to climate change. Real-time measures can only come to fruition by ensuring that highly vulnerable communities have the technical, financial, and institutional resources they require for adaptation. This demands that CSOs and government authorities deliberate on the distribution and allocation of funds to support climate change mitigation measures. The effect of this budget translates into two parts: it raises awareness among communities regarding the benefits of climate change mitigation. It also ensures recurrent annual investments in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. Private funding can activate this transition and help CSOs better support disadvantaged communities, especially when a crisis occurs. Public funding in equal parts is necessary to combat potential risks posed by private sector investments.
To support the development of climate action, CSOs need to enhance the adaptive capacity of individuals and institutions involved in the ecosystem. This is possible only if they understand the interlinkages between different sectors and how they contribute to climate change. By empowering NGOs operating at the grassroots level, nurturing talent, equipping them with information on climate change, we can foster their capacity to make a tangible difference. Additionally, providing access to tools to help improve skills, identifying strategies to improve resilience, and ensuring finances are allocated, particularly for solutions that involve high upfront costs, can further enable those leading this transformative change. Moreover, these efforts have the potential to inspire and empower others to actively contribute to the collective endeavour.
Strategic Communication across Communities
Along with building the capacity of existing CSOs, the next step is to drive a constructive dialogue among community members to enable them to effectuate change. When they are informed about the impact of their choices on the environment, they become more aware and are less resistant to participating in local decision-making processes. CSOs play a pivotal role in facilitating community participation by creating open platforms of dialogue and discussions that ensure the voices and opinions of community members are acknowledged and taken into account. By nurturing this participatory approach, CSOs foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility, strengthening the collective resolve to tackle climate challenges at the grassroots level.
In conclusion, community engagement and participation are indispensable pillars of the climate adaptation framework. Conventional methods of closed-door discussions and conversations in silos no longer serve this purpose. The urgency of this moment calls for a paradigm shift, emphasising that communities entrusted with the responsibility of taking proactive and resilient actions recognise the significance of continuous involvement. This necessitates a holistic approach that transcends the immediate response to unprecedented challenges, thereby extending the focus toward long-term socio-economic development.
(Satyam Vyas is Founder & CEO of Climate Asia and Purnima Tandon is a Senior Associate- Communications, Climate Asia)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation