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Mainstreaming Adaptation in Action: Case Studies from Two States in India

India will face considerable and varied climate change impacts in the coming decades. The country has a large population with high poverty and low adaptive capacity, heavy dependence on climate-sensitive sectors, and is likely to face negative climate change impacts. These factors make adaptation critical. Integrating, or mainstreaming, adaptation into development plans, programs, and projects is an important strategy to ensure that adaptation can match the scale and urgency of the climate change problem. In India, states are key players on adaptation, and several vulnerable sectors are the responsibility of the state. Some sectors in a few states have begun mainstreaming adaptation into their sectoral programs and projects. This paper highlights two case studies of adaptation being integrated into sectoral development programs and projects, in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Ideally, the findings from analyzing these case studies will accelerate and scale mainstreaming efforts in India.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

Highlights

  • India will face considerable and varied climate change impacts in the coming decades. The country’s large population with high poverty and low adaptive capacity, dependence on climate-sensitive sectors, and negative climate change projections make adaptation critical.
  • Integrating, or mainstreaming, adaptation into development plans, programs, and projects is an important strategy to ensure that adaptation can match the scale and urgency of the climate change problem.
  • In India, states are key players on adaptation, and several vulnerable sectors are the responsibility of the state. Although some sectors in a few states have begun mainstreaming adaptation into their sectoral programs and projects, there is much more opportunity to integrate climate risks into development.
  • This paper describes how sectoral departments in two states have sought to manage climate risks and incorporate adaptation into their sector plans, budgets, and programs, as well as why this was necessary, what it looked like, and how this mainstreaming of adaptation was possible. 
  • In doing so, the paper provides findings that may be relevant to other sectoral departments and states: Programmatic mainstreaming may be more financially sustainable than project-specific mainstreaming; funding streams can be used to intentionally support mainstreaming; having supportive policy frameworks in place can support mainstreaming; both political and administrative leaders play important and complementary roles in enabling mainstreaming; building capacity and improving institutional memory are key elements of mainstreaming; and persistent communication and coordination among sectors is critical for managing climate risks.

Background

Integrating adaptation into sectoral programs, policies, and projects is an effective way to address the magnitude of climate change. India’s large population is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, and it is important for communities and sectors to adapt rapidly, at scale, in a way that is sustainable over time. One way to achieve this is to integrate adaptation into the day-to-day functioning of relevant sectors, such as agriculture and water, upon which large sections of the population depend for their livelihoods.

In India, these key sectors are the responsibility of states, and states are expected to incorporate climate change into their regular functioning. To prioritize adaptation activities, states have developed and implemented State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs). These plans have resulted in some interventions being implemented, but there is much more opportunity for progress. Through the upcoming revision of the SAPCCs, states have an opportunity to accelerate and deepen efforts to get climate-sensitive sectors to identify and address climate change risks and impacts in their day-to-day operations, programs, and budgets.

However, there are institutional and financing dynamics that challenge integration of adaptation into sectoral strategies at the state level. For instance, in 2014, the Planning Commission, which was the central body that guided planning and development in India, was dissolved and replaced with National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog). NITI Aayog is a policy think tank that aims to increase the involvement of the states in policymaking. While decentralization of power to the states will be beneficial in some ways, there is a need for centralized planning guidance, directives, and financial support to enable state-level adaptation policymaking. This institutional decentralization has been coupled with financial decentralization, which has resulted in states needing funding for their SAPCCs at a time when they have potentially less access to financial support from the central government. The SAPCC has no dedicated funding mechanism for adaptation, and the link between the SAPCCs and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the country’s most recent climate plan, is weak.

Despite these challenging dynamics, there is scope for more and better adaptation to be integrated into sectoral programs and projects. This paper provides findings from two case studies to enable and encourage this, by showcasing mainstreamed adaptation that has been done: what it looks like, and how and why it was achieved. One case study looks into how the Department of Animal Husbandry (DoAH) in Madhya Pradesh integrated adaptation into its programs, and the other looks into how a multisectoral project was implemented by the Forest Department in Uttarakhand.

About This Working Paper

This paper provides two in-depth examples of how adaptation is integrated into sectoral programs, projects, and budgets in order to highlight what mainstreamed adaptation looks like and also what is necessary for integrating adaptation into development. Ideally, these findings will enable sectors, departments, and states to accelerate and scale their efforts at integrating adaptation into their day-to-day functioning. Doing so will help India adapt to the negative impacts of climate change more rapidly and at scale. The findings are also relevant to stakeholders who can support the rapid uptake of mainstreamed adaptation in India, such as the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and state climate change cells.

Findings

  • Programmatic mainstreaming may be more financially sustainable than project-based mainstreaming. Programmatic mainstreaming has occurred when adaptation is integrated into a department’s programs and budgets and can be seen in its day-to-day work. Using the program’s budget for making the department’s day-to-day work resilient to climate change can be challenging because sectors usually have constrained budgets. However, the benefit of this type of mainstreaming is that it may be more financially sustainable over time because program budgets are always accessible (if adequate) to support adaptation. This is in contrast to stand-alone adaptation interventions that are time-bound, after which there is no option of accessing funds for further adaptation activities.
  • Funding streams can be used to intentionally support mainstreaming. It is especially strategic to use sectoral funds to integrate adaptation into a department’s work when it does not require an overhaul of the existing program being implemented by the department. For instance, in the Madhya Pradesh case study, the Department of Animal Husbandry was able to use sectoral funds by retaining the way it delivered its program but changing the species of cows it was promoting to a more climate-resilient species. In the case of project mainstreaming or when sectoral funds are inadequate to accommodate expenditure of adaptation, other sources may provide an opportunity to adapt. For instance in the Uttarakhand case study, 40 percent of the project was funded by cofinancing from the departments involved, and this cofinancing was dovetailed with budgets from relevant government schemes. The Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) provided a subsidy for constructing the polyhouses that provided an alternative to rain-fed farming that is vulnerable to increased drought and erratic rainfall.
  • Policy frameworks are important, especially at the early stages of mainstreaming. Although the SAPCC recommendations are not mandates and cannot ensure that adaptation takes place, the two case studies showcase the different but important roles that the SAPCCs played in both states at the beginning of the mainstreaming process. In Madhya Pradesh it was not the final SAPCC document that spurred and enabled integration of adaptation into the DoAH as much as the process of developing the SAPCC, with the working groups and access to experts being critical elements that enabled mainstreaming. In Uttarakhand, the Forest Department prepared the SAPCC with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which seemed to enable the Forest Department to lead the project highlighted in the case study. The SAPCC itself was helpful in guiding selection of the location and activities of the project implemented by the Forest Department. 
  • Both political and administrative leaders have different yet complementary influences on the mainstreaming process. Political leaders have the ability to share high-level messages from state or sectoral plans with communities at local levels. For instance, in Madhya Pradesh, political leaders promoted incentive schemes at the village level to increase the uptake of the DoAH’s revised programs. Administrative leaders are government officials who allocate funds for various state-level programs and can influence the strategic use of funds for mainstreaming. In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the chief secretary of DoAH was able to approve the well-documented case for amending the DoAH’s programs and budgets to integrate climate risks. Both these forms of support and influence are required for successful mainstreaming of adaptation.
  • Building capacity and institutional memory enables implementation and sustained action. Both case studies highlight how a commitment to engaging individuals and building their capacity to engage further enables implementation of adaptation interventions within a sector. Building capacity and institutional memory can also enable sustained action over time, despite turnover in personnel. The process of developing the SAPCC was critical for building the capacity of sectoral department staff in Madhya Pradesh, and both of the case studies show that an investment in information-sharing and training can ensure institutional memory.
  • Persistent communication and coordination across sectors are critical for managing climate risks. In cases where multiple sectors are involved, as in the Uttarakhand project, persistent communication and ongoing coordination between sectors and other key entities—in this case the State Climate Change Cell and UNDP—were critical to engage other departments and sustain the momentum of the project. As described further in the Uttarakhand case study and in the Findings and Conclusions, having persistent communication and coordination is feasible for projects with a clear lead implementer, which was the Forest Department in this case. However, in cases of inter-sectoral programmatic mainstreaming where there is no lead organization, it will be critical to agree upon distinct roles and responsibilities.

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