WISE ORGANISES WORKSHOP ON ‘CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FUTURE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNANCE’

A workshop on ‘Climate Change and the Future of Economic Development and Governance’ was held on 18–19 October 2011 in the WISE Training Hall. The workshop was designed for participants from NGOs, civil service organisations, media persons, and those from RE industries. The objective of the workshop was to ‘connect the dots’ (in non-technical language), i.e. link the challenges presented by climate change with the eventual solutions, and the issues of economic development and governance to be faced in implementing these solutions.

The inaugural address was delivered by Vandana Chavan, former Mayor of Pune city and a keen and active participant in the greening of Pune over many years. Ms Chavan underlined the gravity of the challenge posed by climate change, the commitment shown by 1100 mayors of the major cities of the world for implementing climate solutions, and the need to have massive awareness of climate implications at the popular level.

Several eminent specialists from other institutions also addressed the participants. Dr Ashwini Kulkarni of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology presented the official findings of the ‘4 x 4 assessment’ conducted by the Govt. of India—a study of the impacts of climate change on 4 climate sensitive regions of the country and 4 climate sensitive sectors including agriculture, water, forestry and health. Dr Vijay Paranjape dealt with the impacts on the water sector through the alteration of the hydrological cycle, the need to change over to organic agriculture, and the need to conserve the health of rivers and water sources by reducing urban and industrial pollution.

Dr T Jayaraman of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, made a nuanced presentation of climate impacts on food production, to the effect that while the next 15–20 years may not see dangerous impacts, there were few grounds for complacency. He said that impacts on food production would hit those at the bottom of the social pyramid—marginal farmers, the landless people, tribals, fishing communities, and urban poor—the hardest. Col. V N Supanekar, Head of the Centre for Disaster Management, Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration, spoke on the need for increased disaster preparedness and institutional planning in the face of future climate impacts, including sea level rise. Dr R Hema of the Madras School of Economics spoke about the need for community-based solutions in managing their own electricity supplies from RE sources and the range of governance issues that needed to be addressed for it to fructify.

As the host institution, WISE was well represented. The DG of WISE, G M Pillai, addressed the twin challenges of fossil fuel depletion and mounting environmental crises. This was followed by a lively discussion on sustainability, its meaning for different sections of society and the unsustainability of the present paradigm of development. Surendra Pimparkhedkar, Fellow & Head, Centre for Renewable Regulation & Policy (CRRP), demonstrated that India could have 15% green energy in the grid by 2020 through institutionally coordinated actions. Sanjeev Ghotge, Jt. Director (Research) and Head, Centre for Climate and Sustainability Policy (CCSP), addressed sessions on the scientific basis of climate change, one of its dramatic social impacts in terms of migration, and the range of tools of governance that could be applied for reducing carbon throughput by the economy.

Four short films on different facets of climate impacts and solutions, as well as a visual presentation of climate impacts happening around the world and their interpretation according to the emerging science of climate change were shown to the participants. Judging from the feedback of the participants, the new format proved to be a total success. The old Chinese saying—One picture is worth a thousand words—may provide a guide to increasing the effectiveness of future training events.