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State Climate Fellowship

Meet our State Climate Fellow in West Bengal: Abhipsha Ghosh

1 November 2023, 11:00 UTC 4 min read

The State Climate Fellows initiative in India supports subnational climate action. In this interview, Abhipsha Ghosh speaks about climate action in West Bengal.

Tell us about your work as a State Climate Fellow in West Bengal. What are the most exciting aspects of your work? 

As the State Climate Fellow in West Bengal, I am currently working with the West Bengal Department of Environment. I am actively involved in coordinating the revision of the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) in collaboration with key stakeholder departments and subject experts. 

The plan aims at providing a roadmap for climate action till 2030. It also outlines the financing plans within the state, with an emphasis on strategies for adapting to and mitigating climate change in specific sectors. I am presently involved in information sourcing and collaborating with different departments to plan sector-specific initiatives and secure financial resources for the SAPCC. 

Additionally, I am also reviewing gaps and recommendations to facilitate the planning of interventions, create project concepts, and identify potential avenues for climate finance. 

Some of the most exciting aspects of my work include providing inputs in policymaking in consultation with senior leadership, engaging in state-level planning with government officials, as well as documenting best practices on climate action across the state.

What unique opportunities does West Bengal present in terms of climate action work? What are your biggest challenges?  

West Bengal is a recent member of the Under2 Coalition, demonstrating the commitment to reducing emissions through long-term reporting and planning. The Department of Environment serves as the nodal agency for climate action in the state. It is responsible for governing projects focused on climate action in collaboration with governmental departments, private agencies, multilateral development banks, local and international non-profit organisations. 

In 2012, West Bengal formulated its draft SAPCC. This plan was then updated in 2017 after a comprehensive review facilitated by the Under2 Coalition’s Future Fund. The state is currently in the process of further updating this plan until 2030 and in collaboration with 20 important stakeholder departments, following the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).  

Efforts at the policy-level along with several on-ground initiatives on disaster response, mangrove restoration, urban afforestation, distribution of clean fuel-based cookstoves, the establishment of gene banks for conserving indigenous climate-resilient cultivars [a plant variety produced by selective breeding] have been important. Moreover, there is immense scope to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies across various sectors in the state to manage its vulnerabilities. Collaborations between the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and industries could also drive progress in renewable energy and transport initiatives. This in turn can increase the efficiency of the waste sector, while the agricultural sector can also adopt strategies to optimally utilise resources and boost productivity. 

The state of West Bengal faces physical vulnerability to slow onset disasters including sea level rise and droughts, as well as rapid onset events including heatwaves, cyclones and floods - further exacerbating socioeconomic vulnerability. Collaboration among stakeholders is thus key to combatting these impending risks faced by the state. The state also faces the challenge of unreliable and inaccurate data at district, block and panchayat (village) levels. The availability of such data can enable a more detailed assessment of vulnerabilities and assist in planning mitigation strategies and interventions. Also, state-level green budgeting could be a potential instrument in identifying the financing gap. The gap refers to the difference between required and available expenditure for sectoral and area specific climate action (mitigation and adaptation) strategies.

As a young professional, how has your experience been working on climate action at the subnational level with the government? 

It has been an enriching and interesting experience for me, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work directly with government officials leading the way as changemakers. 

It has also been a refreshing change of pace for me to work with an all-women team at the Environment Department, and I am deeply appreciative of the support received throughout my journey. Sub-national governments hold the crucial responsibility of translating national goals at the state level into sector-specific strategies and through the State Climate Fellowship, I have gained hands-on experience on policy planning, inter-departmental consultations, and fostering internal-external collaboration. 

Working in any government system presents challenges. It involves coordinating with multiple departments with varying priorities. However, this has provided me with the opportunity of honing my interpersonal skills and practically applying subject knowledge in roundtable discussions and negotiations. 

While collaborating with representatives across departments, I have also learnt the importance of finding common ground and aligning priorities through effective communication. The West Bengal government has demonstrated a strong willingness to collaborate and has consistently provided support. As a young professional, I aspire to utilise this opportunity by offering technical insights, building a network and effectively communicating to further contribute to sub-national climate action.

How do you think your fellowship is contributing towards West Bengal’s subnational climate action goals? 

The State Climate Fellowship enables me to work as a specialist in the government, a role that often tends to remain unfulfilled due to staff and resource constraints. 

Apart from what I have mentioned above, I have the responsibility of updating the state’s Under2 Ambition Tracker to report long-term emission reduction targets, in consultation with officials. My current responsibilities also include developing project proposals for the State Climate Change Cell and the Environment Department.


As a young professional, I aspire to utilise this opportunity by offering technical insights, building a network and effectively communicating to further contribute to sub-national climate action.

Abhipsha Ghosh