Climate Leaders Initiative – India
…There should be no mistake that this crisis, the climate crisis, is not going to be solved only by personal action and business action. We need changes in laws; we need changes in policies; we need new leadership…
Al Gore, former vice president of the United States, 26 Sept. 2007
Climate Change is one of the biggest challenges that the world has ever faced. It is a concern that cuts across sectors and countries, making existing problems like poverty, health and inequity worse and creating new ones like melting polar ice caps and glaciers. It affects all people, everywhere regardless of national borders and is truly a global problem.
Though changes in global climate will affect everyone, it will not affect everyone equally. It is now widely accepted, that the most vulnerable communities living in the poorest countries are going to be hit the hardest. Thus the world needs to fully understand the impacts climate change is likely to have on these vulnerable parts of the world and take steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The developing countries themselves need to take steps to protect their citizens and help build resilience to the inevitable impacts of climate change. This is indeed a challenging task, made more so by the lack of real information about the local needs and impacts within developing countries.
India with its extensive coastline, glacier fed rivers, significant dependence on the primary sector, monsoon driven agriculture and a large population under the poverty line, is one of the countries which will face extremely severe consequences of climate change. Despite this, there is no real knowledge of the specific impacts climate change will have on different parts of the country and how it will affect the day to day life of the most vulnerable communities. India is a vast country and covers many different climatic regions and thus the impacts would vary greatly, e.g. the problems faced by those living in Himalayan Regions would differ significantly form those living in the Desserts of Rajasthan or the Coastal States.
To make effective policies to tackle climate change, we need to know what is happening at the grassroots level. We need LEADERS from these regions, who understand the affects of climate change and can think of out of the box solutions and communicate these to the national policy makers.
LEAD India, with the support from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has developed a unique and innovative project to create a network of grassroots CLIMATE LEADERS trained and empowered to bring forth regional climate change concerns to a national level.
In order to achieve this, each Climate Leader will interact with their local communities, identify local and regional climate change priorities and develop a case study to assess and highlight theseregional climate change issues, which will be presented to national policy makers and international experts thereby effectively communicating their concerns to state and national level experts, policy and decision makers.
The Global Climate Leaders Initiative is a pilot programme in India and will be replicated in other LEAD Member countries in the future.