Report on the

“Two Days Regional Workshop for North Eastern Region (NER) of India on Climate Adaptation Programme and Sustainable Ecosystem”

A certain change in the temperature, precipitation patterns and other weather events like drought & flood may alter the fragile mountain systems of the Himalayan region including the North East Region (NER). This change in the climate is likely to vary from region to region due to their local factors. The variation in the local climatic conditions will call for different study modules and adaptive strategies. Many constraints and gaps still exist in the knowledge system. Therefore, the state governments of the NER came together to bring forth and facilitate the regional climate information networking system. The State Action Plan on Climate Change are in synergies with the National Action Plan on Climate Change, and the climate adaptation programme have specific linkage with two national missions namely;

  1. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE)

  2. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC)

So, focussing on the common understanding about the challenges faced by the region a 2 (two) days regional workshop amongst the various stakeholders of NER was held at Hotel Classic Grande on 25th and 26th April 2016. The workshop was organised to discuss the climate change impact, vulnerability and adaptation in the North Eastern Region (NER) of India. The main objective of the workshop focus on three basic notes namely –

(1) development for building human capacity on climate change science and integration of adaptation  planning on state specific issues,

(2) understanding of issues related for assessing vulnerability, risk and hazards in the   IHR focussing on effective implementation of SAPCC, and

(3) framing of modalities for implementation of training programme in the Himalayan States.

Day 1, the 25th April, 2016

Hon’ble Minister of Forests and Environment, Government of Manipur, I. Hemochandra Singh graced the opening function of the workshop as the Chief Guest along with Shri Shambhu Singh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Forests and Environment as President of the workshop. Dr. M. Homeshwor Singh, Director (Directorate of Environment), Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Director,(SDC and Embassy of Switzerland) and Dr Nisha Mendiratta, Director, (Climate Change Programme , Government of India) graced the function as Guest of Honours.

 

The dignitaries on the dais

The Director of Environment, Dr. M. Homeshwor Singh, gave the welcome address and background note of the workshop by citing how climate change potentially impair the fragile mountain ecosystem of the Himalayan region impacting the highlanders as well as the downstream settlers. He urged for different models based on knowledge system and data accumulation despite the fragmented knowledge so far available. He emphasized on the need for e-information system with logistic supports from SDC and DST, Govt. of India towards making a road map with clear vision of the mission of climate change and resilience. He also addressed the India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change enshrined national missions that represent multipronged, long term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of climate change.

The participants of the workshop

Dr Shirish Sinha, Dy. Director (SDC) talk about the role and deliverables of the Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) – Towards NE states. By the year 2011, IHCAP was oriented towards climate change scenario focusing mainly on climate change mitigation and adaptation. As of present, they have prioritized on training and capacity building programmes to make the common people aware of the challenges, values and securities of climate change.

The main question is why to focus so much on Himalayan countries. Answer lies in the fact that mountains are most vulnerable to climate changes. First phase (2011-12) of the programme focused on the softer side of capacity building and second phase (January, 2016) to strengthen stakeholders and transfer of knowledge. MoEF, DST and Ministry of Railways launched climate change special express train (Oct-Nov, 2015) for creating awareness at different schools in different locations. Dr Shirish also expressed his high expectations in the next four years regarding the various relevant programmes on climate change issues. He further mentioned about a clear road map for Manipur in the offing and highlighted the role and importance of wetlands in Climate Change Programmes (CCPs).

 

Dr. Nisha Mendiratta, Director (CCP, DST) stated that her department has already started to open Climate Change Cell in as many as seven Himalayan states of the country in 2014 and three more states including Nagaland, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are under consideration while two states viz. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh are in the pipeline. The seven states are Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim. She also mentioned that the state cells on climate change was suppose to take up action plans on (1) Vulnerability and risk assessment (2) Institutional capacity building and (3) Training programme/public awareness.

 

Dr. Nisha Mendiratta addressing the participants

As Dr Nisha said, India has become a strong candidate during COP21 and believed that by COP22, DST would be able to compile results of various climate change programmes. She also elaborated the roles of DST, NMSHE and SDC citing the journey of the whole process of developments.

 

Shri I. Hemochandra Singh, Minister of Forests and Environment, GoM, giving his speech

 

Hon’ble Minister(Forest & Environment, Revenue, Law & Legislative Affairs), Shri I. Hemochandra Singh, addressed the various environmental issues that can be lifted up at any time and opined that every person will be affected with the changing climate change scenario right from the rickshaw puller to the high profile government employee. The recent storm that lashed the state with hailstorms and minor floods is a very good example of the changing climate in the region. In his words, “Sustainability” gives an indication of possible next steps within a future climate regime in addressing adaptation options for the threats posed by climate change. The concerned department was encouraged to complete the assigned job for CCP before six months time. He longed to see the present environment restored back to the pristine form of the past with positive developmental interventions.

Shri Shambhu Singh addressing the participants

 

Shri Shambhu Singh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest & Environment) ascribed the climate change issues in detail and possible measures to manage it in a small state like Manipur. He reminded the participants for profound thinking process and translation of scientific data for adaptation to climate change. The concerns about the reduction in agricultural and horticultural products as well as impairing of water sources were expressed. Most of the forests are felled down in the name of development, and slash and burn cultivation still continuing in the hill areas are a major issue for climate change. He raised the necessity for the restoration of the green forest and concluded that all the participants should think- what is lost and what is being left?

The inaugural function winded up with vote of thanks by Dr. Y. Nabachandra Singh, Joint Director, Directorate of Environment.

 

The delegates and participants of the workshop

SESSION 1

The agenda of the 1st session was ‘Climate Sensitive Sectors in NER and Strengthening of Institutional Capacity’ and it was moderated by Shri P.N. Prasad, IFS, PCCF, Govt. of Manipur and Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Embassy of Switzerland. There were three speakers who spoke on different sub-themes of the session.

 

The first speaker Dr. Dinabandhu Sahoo, Director, IBSD, Imphal gave a deliberate talk on the topic ‘Intervention of bio-resource of NE region in climate adaptation’. He stressed on the drastic change in climate in the recent past where hailstorms and flood are seen in one region while on the other at the same time there is shortage of water and drought. He pointed out that NER despite a rich bio-diversity resource region; poverty level of all the state is very low except Sikkim. Likewise, in Manipur even though a variety of different species are prevalent; there are no commercial advantages of these resources. He emphasised that the focus should be on the actual needs of the people as without food no person will be thinking about climate change. It should be made sure before taking up any plans and programmes that the basic necessities of life are met first. Utilising local resources like bamboos based products is being cited as an example and important measure. This, according to him, not only helps to the production of environment friendly products but also creates employment for the people. Suggesting formulation of policies for adaptation and mitigation a common cause, he emphasized to ‘work not in isolation but in integration’ to tackle with climate change issues.

 

The second lecture on the topic “Sustainable Agriculture of NE region in climate adaptation” in the 1st session was delivered by Prof. L. Nabachandra Singh, Head Agronomy, CAU, Manipur. Analysing the co-relationship between the agriculture and the climate change, Prof. L. Nabachandra asserted that factors like slash and burn cultivation and deforestation in the hilly areas are a major cause of climate change. According to him, Climate change is not only the reason for increased prevalence of pests which threatens the sustainability of agricultural crops but it also leads to increased cost of living for the people by adversely effecting their productivity. He is of the view that use of chemical fertiliser to increase agricultural productivity which in turn causes health hazard is another concern. The speaker opined that the main consequence of climate change in agriculture sector is the decline in bio-diversity like for instance the disappearing of indigenous rice varieties in Manipur. He emphasised on giving adequate attention for sustainable agriculture to satisfy human needs and maintaining environment and conserving natural resources.

Keeping in view the above issues of climate change and sustainable agriculture, the professor recommended various measures which include: Designing sustainable agriculture with the introduction of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), integrated farming and agro-forestry formulation of resource conservation strategy, soil water reduced agriculture techniques, SRI system of rice cultivation (slight modification if needed), integrated crop management practices (ICMP), zero tillage cropping methods, improvement of composting, vermi-composting, cellulitic fungi etc.,

 

Another interesting topic ‘Strategic knowledge in climate change and indigenous knowledge of NER’ was delivered by Prof. W. Nabakumar Singh, Manipur University. He stated that climate change has been a natural phenomenon in the history of mankind. The main drivers of climate change are associated with the greedy exploitation of environment and uneconomic approach to nature by human beings. Despite this exploitation, he observed that there also exists numerous indigenous knowledge of preserving the environment through the traditional beliefs and practices because there is a close attachment of the lifestyle of the people to Mother Nature in the context of Manipur. The professor further stressed on the cultural and traditional beliefs and practices possessing scientific significance and how those practices should be upheld to save nature. He cited a simple yet significant example of an indigenous Meitei culture which allows a person to fell trees only on specific days of the week and not on all the days of the week which according to him, exhibits an effective and sustainable indigenous way of utilising natural resources. Speaking on the significance of indigenous knowledge to deal with climate change impacts, he said that the most important thing in this era is to compare the old cognitive methods and the modern style of knowledge. It is considered necessary that both must go hand in hand to fully understand the changing climate issues. The speaker is of the opinion that the solution to these issues will be successful only when there is synthesis of the operational model of modern science with the cognitive beliefs/models of the indigenous people.  In his speech, Prof. W Nabakumar Singh also further stated that climate change can be studied at different levels of life and each different level must be discussed and analysed at the grass root level.  It is felt that giving due importance at the grass root level will in turn help succeed in taking up mitigating measures to cope with the harmful effects of climate change at the national and global levels. Some of the other important recommendations of the lecture include; giving equal weights to the two approaches (modern versus age-old practices) in the mitigation process, identifying drivers of climate change in grass root level, following a holistic approach for insemination of information and knowledge and occupational rehabilitation of people for shifting cultivators.

SESSION 2

The session 2 proceeded with the presentation by Dr. T. Brajakumar Singh, Dy. Director, Directorate of Environment and PI, CC Cell, Manipur on ‘Presentation from Manipur state Climate Change Cell- Roles, Responsibilities and Progress’. It was moderated by Dr. Nisha Mendiratta, Director CCP, DST, GoI. In his presentation, Dr. Brajakumar talked in brief about the various framework of the CC cell and its targets achieved till date. He also further detailed out the future work plan to enable other upcoming CC cells to follow its path.

 

The main recommendation of the session was to establish a data format for collecting sectoral information wherein experts can be consulted as needed. General standardization of the data base from the state after discussions and complementation can be put up as a model example for the other upcoming CC cells. Climate change modelling can be done by outsourcing research institutes such as IITM, IISc and IITs after the time frame needed for climate change projection was fixed. Dr. Nisha requested the complete sectoral database within six months, proper identification of vulnerable people and listing of all the programmes in accordance to their needs, completion of networking within state groups in one month’s time and preparation of district level profiles and concrete data. Another change to be done was the inclusion of the logo of NMSHE in the SCC Cell Manipur website which was presently missing.

 

SESSION 3

Dr. Nisha Mendiratta, Director CCP, DST, GoI continued to be the moderator of Session 3 with the agenda “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment”. There were two speakers for the third session. Dr. Anand Kamavisdar, Scientist-E, DST, GoI gave the first presentation on “National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: DST’s Initiatives” which was more elaborated on the ongoing activities under NMSHE initiated by DST, Govt. of India in collaboration with other agencies. He also emphasized about the NMSHE document with details of the objective, targeted goals, strategies of the mission and the deliverables of the mission.

 

The second presentation was given by Dr. Jagmohan Sharma, IFS, IISc, Bangalore on “Climate Vulnerability and Risk Assessment in NER of India”, focusing on model for vulnerability assessment at different scale and availability of data. He emphasized on the needs and the objectives for vulnerability assessment since the vulnerability study will differ depending on the scale of the study and regional to regional. 

Various recommendation were given during the session and it  was agreed that there is an urgent need for active interaction among the public including the mass media and the departments about the climate change vulnerability and risk assessment. More intensive problems must be identified on the data based collective information and skill development to bring the adaptive solution of climate change issues. The term Vulnerability is an important part of hazards and risk research; it must be studied at grass root level to decrease all the uncertainties of climate change problems. A report must be made on climate change vulnerability and risk assessment through proper channel including the SCCC and community based to overcome the issues of climate change in this generation.

 

Lastly, there was a moderated discussion on development of framework for climate vulnerability and risk assessment followed by comments from the participants of the workshop. Prof. Asha Gupta of Manipur University suggested the need for extension of education and trainings related to CCPs. All the representatives from the line department opted for continuance for more capacity building as well as trainings in respect to the understanding of climate change issues. Representatives of the media communities were also of the views for more attention towards short trainings under CCP. Representative from DST, GoI and SDC expressed their willingness for extension of such trainings to the State Government in the possible ways.

 

 

Day 2, the 26th April, 2016

 

 

SESSION 4

The second day of the workshop begins with Session 4 in continuation of the previous session. Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Embassy of Switzerland took the chair of the moderator of the session whose agenda was ‘Community Participation’. The session started with self introduction of the delegates and invitees present.

 

Dr. Abdhesh Gangwar, Project Director, Centre for Environment Education gave a talk on ‘Community participation in climate adaptation programme - role of local institution, NGOs, Media, etc. and experience sharing’. He suggested many ideas on how to carry the climate change programme. He wished that the film ‘An inconvenient truth’ be reproduced in regional language versions with new input and updates. He is of the view that ‘Parampara’ or Indigenous cognitive methods should be given more importance while addressing the problems of climate change. Since the role of media has increased in every walk of life, it is equally important for them to initiate capacity building of resource provision related to environment and climate change. He requested the personals of the film fraternity for introduction of knowledge clips about climate change between the movie interval in theatres and this can be done in collaboration with the Directorate of Environment. On the context of Manipur, he opined that plays (Sumang Leela) can be used as a medium to create awareness on climate change issues.

 

The session moved on to the next talk by Dr. I. Meghachandra Singh, Pr. Scientists, ICAR-Manipur, who elaborated the ‘Role of agricultural practices in NE region in Climate Change’. He emphasized his talk on the steps to increase resilience of agriculture in the face of climate change. He mentioned various activities which are needed to maintain and increase the agricultural productivity. Some of the activities are integrated soil management, adoption of climate-resilient crop varieties, stress tolerant HYV varieties, watershed approach, roof water harvesting, in-situ soil moisture conservation, integrated crop management, switching cropping sequences, devising location specific technologies, agro-forestry systems, seed banks, etc.

In between the session, a short thematic film was shown by Dr. Abdhesh Gangwar. The film showcase the science express train for creating awareness especially among the school children focusing on climate change related issues.

 

It was then followed by an interaction on the talks where many questions have been put up and answers pursued. Not only that many suggestions have also come forward like organizing similar workshop for media people and school children. Valley Rose, a journalist, questioned the un-ability to find an alternative for the jhum cultivators. To the question of Valley Rose; Dr. Meghachandra Singh, ICAR, pointed out about the policy of planting fruit bearing trees in the hills, to reduce the felling rate of trees and that systematic management of the hilly terrains is formulated by planting big trees at the higher altitude followed by smaller trees and shrubs as the altitude decreases and finally followed by terrace farming at the lowest level. He also suggested feasible ecology specific and region specific programmes without isolating jhum cultivators.

 

Sorthing Shimray from Ukhrul asked for scientific methods of jhum cultivation and that the approach should be drastic as to keep in pace with the climate change. Dr. I. Meghachandra Singh answered him about the need of strong will power of the decision makers to bring practicable solution to the jhum cultivators. Rupachandra of Impact TV asked for the feasibility of specific programmes for teachers and he is of the view that big factories need to be checked because they play huge roles in the climate change process and the media fraternity is ready to help in all possible ways.

 

Everyone agreed that more studies on local specific conditions is needed and  different models suitable to prevailing circumstances should be developed along with formulating mechanism to reach out to the deprived people. Dr Shirish reminded that Jhum is not a problem but livelihood of the people. Session 4 was closed with the idea of the great responsibility of media, local institutions and NGOs in climate change adaptation programmes. It was also mentioned that the agricultural practices in NE region, where jhum cultivation is much prevalent, should be look into with a different approach and many alternatives.

 

SESSION 5

The agenda of Session 5 was ‘Training Programme on Climate Science and Integration for Adaptation Planning’ and the moderators of the session are Prof. W. Nabakumar Singh, M.U.; Prof. Asha Gupta, M.U.; Prof. N. Rajmuhon Singh, M.U.; Dr. I. Meghachandra Singh, ICAR; Dr. H. Sukhdev, Indira Gandhi National Tribal University and  Dr. Th. Homen, MB College.

 

The session began with a presentation by Dr. Mustafa Ali Khan, Team Leader, IHCAP, PMU, SDC on the topic ‘Framing of Training Modules for Government Middle Level Officers/Nodal Officers’. After the presentation, the moderators expressed their views on the topic delivered. Prof. Asha Gupta, M.U., stressed the need for every line department to come out with a flexible module, in order to overcome the climate change. In addition to it, Dr. Meghachandra Singh, ICAR, suggested that the awareness about climate change should also be increased through mass media. The need of a holistic approach from every department was essential according to the views of Prof. Rajmuhon Singh, M.U. Even the University department like Geography, Earth Science, Forest and Environment should be included as stakeholders. He also added that the community participation would be more if municipalities and panchayat members also included as stakeholders.

 

Dr. Sukhdev, Tribal University, mentioned the difference between theory and the actual field conditions, so he was of the opinion that training programme should be started from the grass-root level by tying up with various institutes. Regarding this, the Ministry of Human Resources could be approached in order to enable the introduction of new courses. The study of resilience mechanism of the people to climate change in order to enable to formulate more practical adaptive measures was emphasized by Dr. Homen, MB College. Finally, Prof. Nabakumar Singh, M.U., said that the need of the hour is to make aware about climate change to the grass-root level and inclusion of traditional knowledge in adaptation practices. He also stressed upon the revision of the existing IHCAP modules as per the local needs.

 

SESSION 6

Session 6 started taking the agenda of ‘Designing road map for implementation of SAPCC and enhancing climate knowledge networking at state level’. It was moderated by Shri Shambhu Singh, IAS, ACS (Forest & Environment), Govt. of Manipur; Dr. Nisha Mendiratta, Director CCP, DST, GoI and Dr. Shirish Sinha, Deputy Director of Cooperation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Embassy of Switzerland.

 

Shri Shambhu Singh, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary  recommended to organize training programme based on a agro-forestry within 2-3 months and launching of application related to climate change within a month time. He also suggested the analysis of the training needs so as to make the programme more effective. KVKs also may be incorporated as a part of all the training programmes. The improvement of the sacred grooves to make it more carbon rich was also emphasized upon. Awareness programmes should be organized for school children along with due importance to field visits and social norms. The Director of CCP, DST, Dr. Nisha Mendiratta was satisfied with the workshop and would be extending the best possible help from the DST in all future endeavours. In her opinion, Manipur has no dearth of resource person and active participation of stake holders is needed to make the climate adaptation programme more effective. Dr. Shirish Sinha, Dy Director of Cooperation, SDC, Embassy of Switzerland, have approached IISc to develop a common framework for studying the vulnerability of the Himalayan region. Once the framework is developed, it will be a trial and tested in two states of which Manipur will be one. Depending on the outcome of the test, focus on training of CC cell on how to use the vulnerability framework will be taken up. By September 2016, training and capacity building for the nodal officers of the states will be done with the revised modules of IHCAP after adapting to the local needs. Public awareness and orientation programme for journalists specially focusing more on the vernacular media will also be organized under IHCAP.

 

The workshop ended with vote of thank by Dr Rabindra Panigrahy, Scientist- C, SPLICE, DST, GoI.