The Department of Environment, Science & Technology, Government of Himachal Pradesh in association with The German Development Cooperation (GIZ) concluded a two-day climate conference at Shimla. The conference was inaugurated by Honourable Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Shri Jai Ram Thakur, alongside inaugural sessions by H.E Ambassador of Germany to India, Mr. Walter J. Lindner, and Shri Sonam Wangchuk, Director, Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh.
Along with the delegates, Mr. Prabodh Saxena, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary (Env, S&T, Fin, Planning), Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Senior Advisor, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, New Delhi, Mr Ram Subhag Singh, IAS, Chief Secretary HP, Mr. Kamal Kishore, Member Secretary, NDMA and Acting Director-General, CDRI were also in attendance.
Mr. Saxena highlighted that all the professors and scientists from all over the world should join hands to discuss the prevention and mitigation of climate change-induced risks in the Himalayas. Dr. Gupta underlined that the impact of climate change is multifold in the Himalayan region.
Mr. Kishore emphasized the 6 things Himalayan states should do to manage climate risks such as enhancing community-level disaster preparedness and integrating state disaster management and climate change action plans.
Mr. Walter J. Lindner also visited the nearby village to interact with the local women farmers and get a better understanding of their day to day problems due to the constant climate change.
Titled ‘Secure Himalaya – Safe India”: Reducing Climate Change Induced Risks & Vulnerabilities due to GLOF-Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in the Himalayas’, the conference discussed climate risks, community preparedness, the role of financial institutions and climate change action plan in the region to reduce climate-induced risks.
On this occasion, Honourable Chief Minister Shri Jairam Thakur and Ambassador Lindner launched the revised State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) and the Knowledge Network and State Platform on CCA and DRR. They also released the SAPCC- SDG poster and CAFRI Programme in the state.
Addressing the conference, Shri Jai Ram Thakur said, “We need to think of the impact of climate-related risks and vulnerabilities for the next generations. As we progress, we demand more from the environment that is a growing concern. Glaciers are an integral part of our ecosystem and are under threat. We should be prepared to protect them else we will be putting our present and future generations at great risk. It will require a behavioural change from each one of us to bring about any shift in saving our fragile ecosystem.”
Mr. Walter J. Lindner expressed his views, “Climate change is a topic that cannot be ignored or neglected anymore. It manifests in different ways and support from developed countries is required for developing countries. Germany & India have long-standing cooperation, especially in Himachal Pradesh on topics such as climate change, hydropower and agriculture among others. This is a very important two-day conference because the focus is on the exchange of views and ideas of experts rather than just long speeches.”
Shri Sonam Wangchuk added, “The future will see many unprecedented calamities if we don’t act now. It is important to engage the youth to build the prosperity of the mountains. Eco literacy and climate literacy should become paramount in the education system, especially in the mountain regions. Bigger cities owe the people in the mountains the support and finances to deal with hazards and prepare better. We have to come up with original, fundamental solutions for mountainous regions since the challenges and lives are different from those living in New Delhi or New York. One cannot just keep adapting to climate change. Mitigation is key.”
Day one included two important technical sessions with eminent experts from the field who focused on Climate Hazard, Risk & Vulnerability in North-Western Himalayas and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods in the Himalayas (GLOF). The first session discussed the burning concerns which included ‘Hydrometeorological disasters & associated risks in the Indian Himalayan Region’, ‘Mainstreaming differential vulnerability of Himalayan Ecosystem and Climate Change: the way forward’ amongst others.
This was followed by the second session which had ‘Climate change modelling & possible GLOF scenario in Indian Himalayan Region’ and ‘Landslide scenario mitigation in North West-Indian Himalayan Region’ as the focus.
Day 2 of the conference shed light on the approaches for mainstreaming CCA and DDR at the sub-national level, risk preparedness and community response and on the vital role of financial organizations in climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The day had three technical sessions and focused on ‘Approaches for mainstream CCA and DRR at sub-national level’, ‘Risk preparedness and community response’ and ’Financial instruments for climate change and disaster risks’.
Along with the delegates, Dr. Ashish Chaturvedi, Director, Climate Change, GIZ, India, Mr. Kunal Satyarthi, IFS, Joint Secretary, NDMA, Government of India, Dr. Jonathan Demenge, Head, Swiss Development Cooperation, Delhi, Mr. Prabodh Saxena, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary (Env, S&T, Fin, Planning) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh, Mr. Ram Subagh Singh, Chief Secretary, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Ms. Vidya Soundarajan, Director-WWF, Dr Shiraj Wajih, President, Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group, Dr Hari Kumar, Regional Coordinator Geohazards International, Mr. Harjeet Singh, Senior Advisor Climate Impacts at Climate Action Network, Dr. Sher Singh Samant, Director, HFRI, Shimla, H.P., and Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Founder and CEO Geospatial World, New Delhi were also a part of the event.
Shri Sonam Wangchuk was the chief guest in the concluding session and also chaired the first technical session of the day and said, “We seem to have set community at the backseat and system as the primary. the community always has to be prepared only then as a nation we will be secure. More forums should be held among communities through various channels that work with communities to make them aware of the risks and the challenges. So we have to really work on community preparedness and awareness. Our major focus should be on how to engage communities to be the leading rather than the following, and then the rest of the system will be actively engaged.”
Dr. RR Rashmi, Former Special Secretary, MoEFCC, GoI and Distinguished Fellow, TERI said "I think today we are actually going to hear from a lot of people who are actually practising on the ground. So, we have amongst the speakers here of course, very experienced policymakers but also practitioners on the ground."
Mr. Ashish Tiwari, IFS, Secretary, Environment & Climate Change, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh expressed his opinions as, "All sorts of Watershed mapping has been done but should be one step ahead. We should map out the places to construct check dams and water harvesting. These are actions for mainstreaming climate change."
On the occasion, Shri Sonam Wangchuk released the CAFRI Factsheet and Report of Deliberation, Declaration of Roadmap which will be used to capacitate the existing government institutions regarding climate change adaptation as well as disaster risk reduction under the CAFRI project. Experts from around the country came together to share their valuable views and opinions making the conference a success.