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Event summary - Vertical integration: Key to meeting India's climate goals

16 March 2022, 13:41 GMT 3 min read

Prerna Panwar

The cohesive nature within sub-national diversity is instrumental in implementing state climate action plans. And it is the principle of collective and shared responsibility that acts as the fuel for a valuable vertical integration within the Indian sub-continent.

To this end, Climate Group and C40 Cities came together to initiate a virtual dialogue on the convergence of sub-national climate governance in India. The session is an integral fragment of the Indian State Climate Leadership Project, supported by the MacArthur Foundation.

Besides attaining active participation from national, city and state governments, the session aimed to explore the process of intentional and strategic linkages among these critical players around climate adaptation. It addressed the significance of recognising multilateral roles and examined development sources within climate action in India.

The session hosted prominent representatives such as Hitesh Vaidya, Director of National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), Rishav Gupta, CEO of Indore Smart City (Madhya Pradesh) and Supriya Sahu, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests, Government of  Tamil Nadu. This panel discussion was jointly moderated by Shruti Narayan, Regional Director, South and West Asia, C40 Cities and Divya Sharma, India Executive Director, Climate Group.

The session dived into city-level analysis, where Hitesh Vaidya discussed high-impact action implementation with directives. While sharing the critical components of the climate action assessment framework where communication played a key role in bringing cities together, he highlighted how the framework helped outline the challenges and contextual needs at the city level.

"The change we need to go forward with for the transition of India's urban development is through joint efforts, peer-to-peer learning and practicing data-driven governance rather it being governance-driven data."

Hitesh Vaidya, Director of National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA)

We observed that south Indian states like Tamil Nadu consider the critical aspects of topographical diversity and, therefore, are mitigating climate protection solutions accordingly. Supriya Sahu highlighted the need for involving local communities and detecting local solutions. She also shared information on projects designed according to the needs of the state, such as Tamil Nadu wetlands mission, restoration of coral reefs, and creation of bio-shields. The aligned idea proposes to turn rural regions into climate-smart zones and reflexively generate awareness about energy saving at all levels of society.

Apart from presenting adaptive methods for the state, Supriya Sahu highlighted the role of the Green Climate Company launched by the state of Tamil Nadu. The objective of its creation is to assist in bridging the gap between the public and the private entities and provide an opportunity for the masses to invest in climate actions while deriving value out of investments.

On the importance of city and district level climate actions, Rishav Gupta shared the discourse over the recently launched District climate action plan (DCAP) of Indore in Madhya Pradesh and how it will be instrumental in mitigating the effects of climate change at the regional level. The DCAP is in alignment with sustainable development goals and smart city guidelines. The action plan highlights the engagement at the district level, which stands as an example of a bottom-up approach. It also holds the strength to direct and optimise public behaviour towards climate sensitivities.

"The state's governance structure and deliberative collaborations allow climate action initiatives to sustain. The administrative structure, which involves varying stakeholders, ensures the regular enactment of initiatives. These are the pillars driving the climate activities and ambition of Madhya Pradesh, including the Indore Smart City Initiative."

Rishav Gupta, IAS, Chief Executive Officer, Indore Smart City

Talking about an innovative carbon credit mechanism in Indore city, Gupta stressed welfare ideals by changing the lens of 'waste' as 'wealth.' He shared about a monetizing programme that uses carbon credits generated to aid environment amiable projects. The programme is a portrayal of innovation, which assists cities to become economically viable for carbon reduction projects. The combination of public, private and non-state actors under the presented framework initiates economic recovery through sustainable means.

Overall, this discussion successfully deliberated on the need to virtually integrate climate actions and ambitions of Indian states, cities and districts, which remain the core driver towards achieving India's climate goals.

Objectively, vertical integration of the sub-sets will maximise both national ambition and state action plans. The nature of integration will act as a long-term solution, displaying effective collaboration between varying stakeholders.