Climate change is a stark reality, and its impacts are growing more severe every year. India is the seventh-most vulnerable country with respect to climate extremes. It is facing rising heat stress, which affects monsoon patterns and contributes to a higher incidence of droughts, storms and floods and the desertification of millions of hectares.
The risks associated with climate change have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities with low adaptive capacities posing a threat to sustainable development. Rising sea levels and tropical storm and cyclones already make millions of Indians living along the coastline particularly vulnerable to climate change.
Extreme climate events have increased in intensity. Heatwaves in Punjab, flash floods in Himachal Pradesh and the Nisarga and Amphan cyclones sound warning bells for stronger climate action. More than 300 similar extreme events have occurred in the 60 years leading to a monetary loss of $79.5 billion in the last 20 years, while Cyclone Amphan alone led to $14 billion in economic losses.
We will need to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of a changing climate by building resilience—to ensure that countries and communities can withstand climate risks. The importance given to climate adaptation is also based on the grim reality that reducing carbon emissions is no longer enough to reverse the impacts of climate change. Adaptation measures are equally important and time-sensitive.
Many communities on the frontlines of climate change have begun building resilience to climate impacts, and government, civil society organisations and other groups have been working on adaptation for years. But we need more urgency,innovation and scale. There exist huge gaps in planning and implementing viable climate resilience strategies. Climate impacts and risks are not yet adequately factored into decision and policy making, and much more funding is required for climate adaptation, particularly locally-led adaptation efforts.
Shakti’s Climate Resilience program seeks to build the resilience of vulnerable communities in order to withstand climate change by working with policy makers, multilateral institutions, communities and partner organisations. We support the integration of climate risk into development planning, advance data and evidence on good adaptation practices and promote equity and inclusion in adaptation efforts.
We also focus on addressing the strong nexus between water, agriculture and energy to promote climate-resilient growth. Rapid economic growth and urbanisation has increased the demand for water, food and energy putting these interconnected resources under pressure and making the nexus between them central to India’s energy transition. Producing energy requires water, and both water and energy are necessary for crop production. Water resources in India are already stressed with climate change aggravating the issues of water and food scarcity.Only by holistically addressing the water, agriculture and energy nexus can we effectively manage trade-offs and mitigate and adapt to climate change, while protecting the most vulnerable among us.