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Highlights 2021
Generating Knowledge to Bolster Climate Action

Delineating how HSF’s efforts through its partners aid Karnataka’s journey to achieve its climate ambition and SDG targets.

In the battle against climate change, subnational actors have much to contribute. Execution of climate action needs to be supported at the state and sub-state levels for enhanced and better policy outcomes. Enough attention needs to be paid to the role that state plays or can play in dealing with climate change. From envisaging clear-cut action points to provisioning proportionate financial resources, a unified strategy to cope with climate change should be crafted based on the latest scientific findings, traditional wisdom, and community science. Data and knowledge play a significant role in keeping the climate discourse in a right perspective. Generation and validation of data and knowledge should follow a bottom-up approach for the sake of their scientificity and legitimacy. Science based policy formulation is a must for a climate governance model to work effectively.

Against all the odds posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanns Seidel Foundation through its expert partner organisations Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), Centre for Environment Education (CEE), and Manuvikasa, strove to study the climate action efforts of Karnataka with focus on water and agriculture. The studies helped generate data and knowledge which were disseminated through a state level policy roundtable and a workshop. 

Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change

One of the key focus areas of the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) is to provide “assistance to the formulation of policies for a sustained developmental agenda within a responsive climate change framework”. To strengthen it at the state level, CEE conducted a study, entitled “Assessment of the Karnataka State Action Plan on Climate Change with a focus on water and agriculture sectors” (Download here) to map policy gaps in the implementation of Karnataka’s climate action programme. The study emphasizes on the need to promote “exchange on local scientific information and traditional knowledge to inform farmers about suitable cropping patterns as per the changing climate conditions” and bridge research gaps “at both local and state level to tackle the challenges of climate change in agriculture”.  Additionally, it says strengthening the interlinkages between the government line departments at the district level and those of the Gram Panchayats is essential for increasing the efficacy of the KSAPPCC’s water and agricultural priorities. 

Impacts of climate change are reflected much more in the water sector than any other sectors. Locale-specific knowledge is needed to achieve the climate change adaptation on the ground. Rivers are gravely susceptible to the vagaries of climate change.  While basin management approach is needed to provide a strategic framework of the river development, from implementation point of view management at the micro or sub-watershed level is needed to rejuvenate the river and enhance its flow volume and seasonal durability.

To carry out an effective and integrated watershed management of the rivers in the northern part of Karnataka, Manuvikasa together with College of Forestry, Sirsi, conducted a study of three river basins—Aghanashini, Varada and Gangavali—to develop strategic knowledge in the form of an Approach Paper (Download here) on the bottom-up river management processes based on community science and participation. A total of 450 households were surveyed for this study. Among other things, the study recommends that in the drier districts of Karnataka where chain series of tanks are dominant, Water Users’ Association should be formed for each tank and federated at the sub-basin level. The sub-basin needs to have a hydrological linkage with the main river basin utilization such that there is no clash of interests among the different units and other schemes in the river basin.

Cementing Knowledge Partnership

Knowledge generation is important to pursue climate action in its totality. But what is equally important is create a common pool of knowledge resources generated by individual institutions or experts for a collective effort to deal with climate change. According to the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change, one of the major constraints that limit the ability of the national knowledge system for an effective response to climate change is “fragmented knowledge base in terms of people, institutions and capabilities”.

To help overcome this constraint, CEE organised a state level Knowledge Partner Symposium in Bangalore on 11 November which facilitated cross-learning, peer review, and validation and sharing of data generated through a CEE study on KSAPCC. The workshop helped create a knowledge network on KSAPCC and mobilize community of practice. The following knowledge partners were present in the Symposium:

  • Central Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s regional office in Bangalore
  • Centre for Sustainable Development, Rural Drinking Water and Sanitation Department, Government of Karnataka 
  • Indian Institute of Science
  • Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
  • Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute
  • Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
  • Centre for Sustainable Development
Group pic of the Knowledge Partner Symposium

Group pic of the Knowledge Partner Symposium

Role of Subnational Actors

In dealing with climate change, subnational actors play a crucial role. Thus, the state institutions and civil society groups need to be supported in their pursuits by providing them with latest information on the impacts of climate change, evolving role of institutions, and global climate action frameworks. In that spirit, CEE organised a state level roundtable on “Role of Subnational Policy in dealing with Climate Change” on 07 December in Bangalore. The aim of the event was to launch and share the results of its study on KSAPCC with key actors of the state and talk about the impacts of climate change on water and agriculture. Underscoring the challenges that the states in India face in dealing with climate change, Aditya Valiathan Pillai from Centre for Policy Research New Delhi said that the states suffer from lack of adequate finance, capacity, and coordination when it comes to acting on climate change. He added that the Centre should take an enabling role and provide the states with the requisite assistance. At the same time, the States should experiment and create models for diffusion. Dr Indu Murthy from Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy Bangalore pitched in for more decentralisation of climate action. She asked, “Given the diversity and variability in climate, economic and social conditions that prevail across a state, can we transition towards preparing district / block / panchayat / village level plans?”. But “What would it take to downscale (S)APCC?”. According to her, for that to happen, the information, institutional and resource capacities of the sub-state units have to be there and strengthened. 

Study launch by the dignitaries

Study launch by the dignitaries

Leveraging Local Action

For downscaling climate action at the local level, strategic knowledge sub-system needs to be created to provide latest information on climate change. The information needs to be customized to suit the needs of the local target groups such as Panchayats, farmer groups and individual villagers. To provide latest information and know-how on water management and sustainable agriculture, Hanns Seidel Foundation supported the development of a water and environment learning centre in Uttara Kannada, which also acts as a resource centre for eco-friendly water, food, and energy models.

HSS-Manuvikasa Learning Centre

HSS-Manuvikasa Learning Centre

For an effective climate action on local level, another constraint is “poor connectivity between and within knowledge generating communities and user communities”. Translation and sharing of knowledge with the user communities, especially Panchayats and farmers, remains a big challenge. In that direction, Manuvikasa conducted four trainings on integrated water resources management for more than 250 Panchayat members and farmers in Uttara Kannada to enable them to perform sustainable agriculture.

In Tumkur district of Karnataka, HSS has been supporting IIMB to implement a project on “Developing sustainability related knowledge and capability for farmers”. Since August 2021, IIMB has been conducting a study of Nonavinakere lake through remote sensing data and use of internet to develop and provide information on sustainable agriculture and water use efficiency to the farmers. The research was done by Dr P G Diwakar who is ISRO Chair Professor at National Institute of Advance Studies Bangalore. CultYvate Bangalore supported the development of internet of things by installing gateway, weather station, water level sensor and soil moisture sensors in the fields. To develop a better perspective on the demand side of the water management, a total of 250 farmers have been surveyed by IIMB for collecting socio-economic data. The study is going on and expected to complete by