May 27, 2015

Parliamentarians urged to keep the climate, change the system

Consultation with Policymakers on climate change and the SDGs

A Consultation organized with Members of Parliament, civil society urged them to have strong and principled positions in the climate change and SDGs negations, two critical global treaties that will be negotiated this year. The meeting was organized by Beyond Copenhagen Collective at Constitution Club in Delhi on 11th March 2015. Six Members of Parliament including Anil Madhav Dave, Abhishek Singh, Chandulal Sahu, Ravindra Kumar Pandey, Anupam Hazra, and Lakhan Lal Sahu participated in the Consultation.

Mr. Chandrshekhar Sahu, former Minister, Govt of Chhattisgarh opening the discussion said that the need for this dialogue arises out of lack of parliamentary oversight on the issues, and the effort is to create a regular channel of dialogue with the Parliamentarians. He highlighted the importance of shared understanding and partnership among the stakeholders in facing impacts of climate change and moving towards a low carbon development pathway.
Ajay Jha from Beyond Copenhagen said that while India has provided leadership to developing countries in these discussions, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done to represent the interests of poor in the climate and SDGs negotiation. He referred to the lack of equity and justice in the international negotiations on climate change and SDGs, and explained that the irony is that even entire atmospheric space is given to the developing countries, they would not be able to take the development at par with the developed countries. In the formulation of the SDGs, he added that in view of lack of means of implementation and global cooperation SDGs will witness the same fate as the MDGs. He lamented on the lack of ambition of developed countries in both the processes. However, he emphasized that people are more concerned on lack of progress and debate on these issues nationally. While he referred to lack of progress in the NAPCC and SAPCCs, he said there is no discussion at all on the SDGs. He suggested that high importance and long lasting impacts of these policies in all countries of the world merits national and parliamentary debates. He underlined that while there is a need to have strong position in the SDGs negotiation, there is also a need to adapt these goals nationally and ensure time bound, meaningful and effective progress on these nationalized goals on sustainable development. He also invited people to bring related issues of local concerns that might have significant bearing on these omnibus issues.

Mr. Om Thanvi, editor, Jansatta said that two communities of the society who can make difference Parliamentarians and media persons are neither aware nor interested in the nuances therefore, there is these issues lack visibility in the public space. He suggested that there should be a continuous dialogue on these new and evolving disciplines with the policymakers and the public.

Mr. Soumya Dutta, from BJVJ said that while in the national policy space there is need for recognition of climate change and proactive actions, in the international negotiation, India needs to increase its physical and intellectual engagement. He also added that in recent negotiations, India has been isolated and seen as a dialogue breaker, while the reality is that country’s per capita emission is still very low compared to other countries and blame should have fallen more on the developed countries. He added that non recognition of adverse impacts of climate change and related disasters in national policy space leads to poor preparation and poorer results both at home as well as in international foras.

Ms. Ranja Sengupta from TWN, said that while India has pitched strongly in favour of poverty and hunger eradication, sustainable consumption and production patterns, enhanced means of implementation in the SDGs negotiations, it need to be careful that goals and targets are not reduced, which will have disastrous effect in view of the enormity of the challenges that we are facing today. She also added that India has expressed reservation on sexual and reproductive rights, on which we expect more progress nationally.

Mr. Pradeep Sharma from Krishak Biradari, shared how the state action plans are made without stakeholders consultation, and have minimal impact on sectoral policies. He said that people in states are questioning the purpose of the Plans. He also shared a citizen led initiative to do climate resilient planning in 100 villages of Chhattisgarh.
Ajita Tiwary from INECC, referred to power and sponge iron projects in Chhattisgarh and their impact on environmental degradation. She added that India needs more preparation for the INDCs that India has to be submit by July this year and the need for a national consensus on INDCs.

Ms. Sandhya Jain, senior columnist, attracted attention towards the plight of forest dwellers and the forests and the urgency to ensure these communities voices in the policymaking.

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, said that the discussion around these issues have largely focused on the the impacts and probable impacts rather than solutions. He added that since Copenhagen it is clear that a global equitable solution on climate change is not politically feasible. Therefore, we should have more emphasis on national action. He explained that India has a culture and a social spiritual motivation towards environment, which gives an advantage to India as compared to other countries, and therefore, its all the more important that India should provide leadership on these issues. He assured all possible help in expanding this dialogue.

Mr. Abhishek Singh agreed that there is a need for more understanding among policymakers on these issues, and said that government is willing to listen to good suggestions in the spirit of cooperation. He welcomed the initiative and offered all possible help in ensuring that constructive suggestions reach the right audience.

Mr. Chandu Lal Sahu, emphasized the need for more direct engagement with grassroots communities on issues of poverty, and development including environmental conservation and engagement of youth on these issues.

Mr. Ravindra Kumar Pandey, (BJP, MP from Jharkhand) said the country needs energy to take development to all villages, and this might have some environmental costs. However, he also emphasized that in the changed circumstances, sustainability is a bigger concern than it was earlier, therefore we need to strike a balance between developmental needs and environmental conservation.

Mr. Lakhan Lal welcomed the initiative and assured all help in strengthening the dialogue.

Mr. Anupam Hazra (TMC) said that we need to strengthen direct democracy and decentralized planning, which will make policies and programmes more oriented to local needs and responses and enhance climate resilience of the communities. However, he added that India must play a more proactive and engaged role in the international forums, as expectations from India in global cooperation has increased significantly in recent years.  

Mr. Vijay Pratap, (SADED) underlined the need for an institutional arrangement for sustained dialogue with all stakeholders including the communities who have almost no climate footprint, and urged the parliamentarians to work towards creating such a forum.

Mr. Sharad Joshi (CECOEDECON) said that we need to engage with the policymakers across political spectrum on critical issues without any preconceived notions and we must make sure that we present a collective position in coordinated manner rather than working in isolated spaces.

Justice (Retd.) P C Jain delivered the vote of thanks. He underlined that India must enhance engagement on climate change and sustainable development, as these are global issues and require global solutions. However, he added that at the same time we should not lose sight of the fact that there is a greater need for progress in national policy space as India is highly vulnerable and poor people and women are facing disproportionately adverse impacts.

April 04, 2015

Adaptation and Agro-ecology; Women’s Strategies for Climate Change

COP 20 side event, 1st December, Paracas

The COP 20 side event was co-organized by CECOEDECON, Beyond Copenhagen, Action aid International and Practical Action. Since there was no discussion on agriculture in COP 20/SBSTA, the side event hoped to get the attention of the country parties and negotiators as well as CSO participants on the issue of agriculture. The objective of the side event was to convey to the audience that the in the din of the climate smart agriculture, the agro-ecology is getting completely neglected, and the worst affected are women. Women have shown leadership in adapting to climate change and enhancing agro-ecology but the policymakers have failed them by prioritizing mitigation over the urgent needs of adaptation.

Opening the discussion moderator Ajay Jha said that women farmers have huge contribution in agriculture and food security and economy of the countries especially in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. Women have shown leadership in enhancing adaptive capacity of the agriculture through approaches which is ecologically sustainable and less dependant on external inputs, however, they face a number of challenges including that of climate change and policy design, lack of access and ownership being one of the most important among them. He emphasized that in South Asia where more than 65% women workforce is engaged in agriculture, less than 6% of them have land ownership. He added that in view of the fact that the cost of agriculture is rising steeply, agroecology also makes business case. Chris Handerson, from Practical action provided overall concept of agro-ecology, scenario of positioning of agro-ecology in agriculture and case studies of women farmers. He said that lot of farmers are adopting agro ecological approaches, and therefore, it is not something new being proposed. However, he added that existing system was loaded against small farmers, which presents a compelling need for policy reform and financial support. He recommended increased public investment in research, investment to agro ecological approaches and also hoped that a reformed market will also support agro ecological approaches.

Manu Srivastava from CECOEDECON provided case studies from Rajasthan India on experiments to enhance agro-ecology and improved water management, and loss and damage in agriculture due to disasters. She cited case studies from villages in Rajasthan (Paragpura & Bapugaon) where farmer led water harvesting structures and management have been able to bring the water table up and as a result farmers are able to draw two crops in a desert like condition. She also shared the findings of the loss and damage study from Uttarakhand climate disaster (June 2013), and emphasized that farmers were measly compensated for the loss and crops and land due to disaster. She underlined that loss and damage due to disaster cannot be compensated by adaptation alone, and needs separate treatment otherwise the gains from adaptation may be reversed.

Teresa Andersson from Actionaid international shared the position of agriculture in climate change mitigation. She lamented the mitigation focus in agriculture and false solutions being proposed. She added that agriculture is being discussed in multiple platforms in the climate negotiations (ADP, SBSTA, NAPs etc.) but none of them addressing the agro-ecology, which has been shown as the most resilient way of food production reports after report. She also strongly opposed the Global Alliance on Climate Smart Agriculture, which she said was a corporate driven and dominated platform with agribusiness corps like Yarra, Syngenta, Mc Donalds and Walmart.

An animated discussion followed the presentations where participants shared destruction of food systems due to climate change impacts, strategies adopted by women farmers and policy response etc. participants shared coffee being affected in Ethiopia, Potatoes being badly hit in Kenya and drought and extreme flooding in Asian countries. In famers/women farmers strategies participants shared Roof collection of water and other water harvesting technologies, women reviving traditional seeds in Kenya. In Peru women have responded by multilayer coffee farming, mulching, terracing and using home made fertilizers, growing traditional species of potatoes. In Gambia, women have started preferring compost over fertilizer and using traditional early maturing variety of seeds over HYV. Participants also provided examples of lack of ownership of land, economic and trade policies and lack of incentive as major policy gaps in promoting agro-ecology.

The moderator summed up the discussion with few conclusions.
  • The current trend in agriculture is posited against enhancing agro-ecology, however, farmers and women have been experimenting with certain adaptations on their volition.
  • Adaptation and agro-ecological approaches have been largely beneficial to the farmers, but it was not equally shared with farming community so that each farmer could benefit.
  • Adaptation too has a limit, and that brings the role of policies and incentivizing adaptation.
  • The climate negotiations by their focus on mitigation are not responding to the needs and aspirations of small farmers.
  • There is a need to stand up a resist false solutions and package of practices like Climate Smart Agriculture.