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State-funder roundtable

Fortifying subnational climate leadership during India’s G20 Presidency

India State-Funder Roundtable 2023

16 March 2023, 5:51 UTC 4 min read

With India’s G20 presidency this year, this is a significant moment to capitalise on the momentum of India’s climate leadership. Subnational governments and philanthropies are key, as they have the power to fortify action on climate by aligning their vision and priorities.  

To this end, Climate Group convened a closed-door, in-person State-Funder roundtable in New Delhi in February 2023. Senior officials from seven Indian states and five leading philanthropies attended the roundtable.  

The dialogue achieved its objective of connecting both these important stakeholders with a free-flowing exchange of strategy, synergy, vision and action.  

While states and funders unpacked specific challenges that underpin their climate efforts, the focus of the session was anchored on bringing solutions to the table.  

The event also looked at deeper opportunities for these actors to collaborate and strengthen the shared network and resources on climate action supported by like-minded civil society organisations and partners. 

The discussion kicked off with an opening address delivered by Ameya Prabhu, Founder and CEO, Duesberg Bosson Financial Services Pvt Ltd and Member, India Advisory Group, Climate Group. Highlighting the importance of the moment, Mr Prabhu suggested formalising such platforms for continuous exchange of ideas and vision among states and funders in India.  

Following this, Mihir Sharma - Director of the Observer Research Foundation New Delhi, set the tone for the convening by delivering a special address.  

He discussed leveraging India’s G20 Presidency moment this year by connecting key stakeholders, across both state and national borders in order to unlock the necessary international finance to advance climate ambition and action of subnational governments.  

The roundtable 

Senior officials from state departments such as environment, forest and climate change, science and technology, and so on, were present for the convening, along with senior representatives from leading Indian and global philanthropies.  

State representatives remarked on the strategic priorities in their State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCCs) and spoke of lighthouse projects that were being implemented or planned. The group identified opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and launching these projects at scale. 

Multiple states discussed vulnerability assessments and mapping – with discussions centred on building responsiveness and resilience to the impacts of climate change.  

The group went beyond global and national climate commitments to highlight state priorities and local climate action. Mainstreaming climate into state budgets as well as empowering local communities with economic opportunities to ensure a just transition emerged as priorities. 

The need to unlock climate finance in innovative ways was underscored. Many state representatives spoke of mechanisms such as emissions trading systems and payment for ecosystem services.  

Specifically, one state representative spoke of nature economics, i.e., the economic reimagination of nature, calling attention to the unique ecosystem services provided by India’s biodiversity hotspots. Public sensitisation in the state was also a central theme in terms of their climate action, as they spoke of their success with involving youth in forest management and integrating climate change panchayats with public consciousness. 

Ways to funnel global public finance into subnational climate action were also highlighted by philanthropies, with discussions on leveraging key global bilateral relationships for climate finance at the local level. 

They spoke of the importance of collaboration and discussed ways of aligning with states on key themes and gap areas. They underlined the opportunity presented by the food and land systems as a trifecta of three critical themes - livelihood generation, ecological systems and both climate mitigation, and adaptation. 

Agriculture was also discussed by state representatives, with crop waste management being an important theme, as well as designing climate-resilient dairy systems. The need for funding to solarise drinking water and irrigation was emphasised by some.  

Key takeaways 

Some of the key strategic takeaways that emerged from the discussion: 

  • Indian states highlighted the need for capacity building for a clean, just, and equitable transition in Indian states 

  • Philanthropies underscored the potential of vital systems such as food, for India’s broader climate ambition 

  • Cross sectoral and multi-partner collaboration will be key to accelerate state climate action in India  

  • Global peer to peer learning and transfer of best practices to Indian states  will drive change  

  • It is key to have states in key decision tables to drive subnational climate diplomacy and the agenda on finance for state climate action  

The Under2 Coalition has been focussing on capacity building and knowledge sharing among Indian states and regions to leverage the power of networks and partnerships to rapidly move from ambition to action.