Thursday, November 17, 2022

Firsthand experience at the COP27 Egypt

Hello people, 

Being a local from Pune and working along with grassroot initiatives gives me a feeling of immense pleasure and satisfaction. But when you get a chance to talk about the initiatives with people at a global platform it’s the next level feeling.

The 27th Conference of Parties (COP) is one of the most expensive ones happening post covid. It is partly as a recovery from the pandemic and partly because the host city is a resort city. One may feel why organize such large scale meetings and consultations? Why to add to the already increasing emissions pool?

Trust me this global meeting is very much needed from accountability perspective. It’s a platform where NGOs, Activists, Youth, Civil Society Members like you and me get an opportunity to hold the Head of the States, Ministers and Negotiators our leaders responsible for their actions at an international level. This platform has a legal binding so if that is a fight it is to be fought here.

Entrance banner

Now that all the carbon emissions happening due to the meeting with all the flights coming in and with all the resources that are being pulled in for this annual meeting are being optimized but there's still a lot of scope.

So far, this year’s COP has been disappointing from Climate Finance perspective since so far only a few million dollars have been poured in by the emitters when what we need is billions of dollars for all the loss and damage that has already been occurred. There are a lot of ‘Ifs and Buts’ on how to fund and whom to fund...blah blah blah.

But with whatever sessions I attended and with all the work that we are doing at INECC, LAYA and Samuchit I am quite hopeful, and this COP added value to my HOPE. The work that is happening at local level has immense potential to take on the whole world without the petty finance from these historic emitters or the so-called developed nations. Nevertheless, from justice point of view it is their moral and legal responsibility to fund their fellow people on this planet. That too in the form of absolute fund and not in debt, this point was raised very clearly in one of the sessions that I attended. Climate crisis is indeed a human rights issue and it’s our right to ask for all that is lost and damaged with or without the political will. Our environment and surroundings are not dependent on us, we humans are dependent on them. Our world leaders have to realize they are on a suicidal pathway. If they don't, it's time for us to change our leaders who can turn the tide! That's where our work with engaging citizens and youth gets crucial. 

Side event on Global Goal on Adaptation by CAN 

Nevertheless, this COP also gives me HOPE, to see so many developing countries, indigenous groups and even a war struck nation like Ukraine making a point to come here on a global platform and put forth their perspective. Though some are playing a victim card, but they are here to show that we need to be heard and that is important. A lot of Adaptation and Climate Finance has already been diverted towards pandemic and wars. Hence it is important now to create an additional pool of resources for such uncertainties and fund the ones who are part of the solution ensuring to make this world a better place to live in.

Ukraine Pavillion at the COP27

Asia Pacific Youth group

I was all excited and overwhelmed with everything happening around in this meeting. Right from getting into the registration hall with all the security therein.  Then setting our booth space and meeting online friends from Asia Pacific Youth group and so on. It was so good to see all group members face to face. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm of my young fellas from Australia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India gave a lot of HOPE for a better future!!!

We also had our side event, for which I was nervous for no reason. I was not on the panel, still with all the stalwarts on the panel, our side event went quite well and well in time too. Hats off to my colleagues on the panel Myron Mendes, Nakul Sharma and Martin Voss and our moderator cum opener Dr Priyadarshini Karve for a great show. It gives me a feeling of pride to be part of the team.

Our side event at the COP27 on the big screen

The best part this year’s COP events focused on local solutions and actions on ground as well. INECC’s initiative on Locally Developed Choices for Nationally determined Contributions (LDC for NDC) was first such side event to be showcased! I realized later that a lot of organizations are working on local solutions and had the same opinion as us. Thus, we were all showing solidarity in the work that is being done for making ourselves Climate resilient.   

COP27 Side events schedule

Being part of local campaigns and undertaking social media campaigns is something that I feel is required, but the way it is done matters. I am glad that I could participate in one such campaign on asking the emitter nations to ‘Pay Up 4 Loss and Damage’ at an international level organized by Climate Action Network (CAN). The best part was when a pack of Ministers passed by the whole campaign gained momentum and everyone there looked upon them for paying up to the climate crisis. There were around 500+ people there in all, young and old, supporting the campaign at that time. It was quite a scene!  

Me at the CAN campaign
Another interesting campaign by CAN was on awarding the Fossil of the Day award to entities that are doing their best at their worst like supporting fossil fuels. It’s all about holding these 'villains' responsible for their actions. There were some other campaigns such as endorsing ‘Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuel treaty’, conserving Oceans, saving vulnerable communities, etc. Apart from this there were many interesting discussions and sessions happening at the same time in multiple pavilions, it was very difficult to decide which one to attend. How to get to that place was another exercise altogether, the overall logistic arrangement in this COP was horrible, from the chaotic shuttle service to the maps provided everywhere making no sense... but we still managed to get to places.

Campaign on Ending Fossil Fuel at COP27

With all the e-networking that I had been into since the past couple of years, I happened to meet all these people here. I met my Bangladeshi friend Zuhair from the Conference of Youth (COY) I attended in 2017, one of the mentors from my Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) coursework Raji working in Andhra Pradesh was happy to see me and know that I am working with LAYA that is situated in Vizag. Also met fellow Climate Reality member Rituraj Phukan who's doing great work on ground in Assam on Climate Education.

Face to Face meetups at the COP27

Also made new connects with groups working on similar initiatives from other South Asian countries like Bangladesh and met people from INFORSE a very active network having a consortium of developed plus developing country organizations working on sustainable energy access. Attended a session by CEEW whose work we follow at the SDG pavilion. We also met old friends of Nafisa and Dominic who have attended almost every COP and are still excited about COP and are still exploring ways to participate in the campaigns. 

INFORSE meet at their booth in COP27

The one week at COP has been very enriching for me and I am grateful for attending this one!!!

Pournima Agarkar. 

You can connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 

OR message here to join our WA group.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 6

 #COP27: Day 6

Saturday November 12 was our last day at COP27. The meeting also takes a break on Sunday and will continue for another week. But our stay here is over. 

As I mentioned in one of the previous blogs, Egypt and Sherm al Sheikh have not done a great job with the logistics of the conference. 

It was not clear till about two weeks before the start of the conference whether we would even be able to be here. The hotels all over the city were arbitrarily hiking prices and refusing to confirm reservations. We managed to sort out our stay arrangements and were able to absorb the escalated cost, but many other people from NGO sector had to cancel their trips. Several people were blackmailed into paying more after arrival here. 

For almost half of the first week the prices of food and beverages inside the venue of the conference were exhorbitantly high. After a lot of protest from the observer organisations the food prices were slashed by half. It seems that the hotels with bookings for the second week of the conference have also been told to lower their prices and not demand extra money from the participants. But all in all, it appeared that the hosts tried their best to contain the civil society presence at the COP. However, those of us who did get here and those who will come in the second week in spite of all the hurdles have certainly made our presence felt. There has been some protest or other going on almost daily and drawing a lot of media attention from around the world. 

Some of the newslinks are here and here and here.

INECC team member Pournima in the Climate Action Network (CAN) Protest

On my last day at COP27, I attended what was for me the best side event. It was organised by International Network for Sustainable Energy (INFORSE) and had speakers from Europe, Africa and South Asia. It was interesting to see that organisations in Denmark on one hand and several prominent countries in Africa on the other hand have come up with systematic plans to shift to 100% renewable energy with a clear timeline. The plans presented were very much grounded in practicality and focused on solar - wind - hydro and sustainable biomass energy with each country focusing on its own unique combination. The south Asian presenters were from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They too presented how localised renewable energy solutions that are helping local communities to achieve climate adaptation as well as contribute to mitigation. This was exactly the pathway that we too are pushing for through our #LDCforNDC campaign. 

Personally, it was heartening to see that in spite of the big push and bad mouthing of biomass fuelled cooking by LPG and electricity lobby, the grassroots level organisations in Africa and South Asia still see the importance of improved cook stoves and biogas plants based on waste biomass as the more realistic solutions for meeting cooking energy needs. They also had practical data on how these humble interventions support both adaptation and mitigation. 

What I liked the most about this side event was that all the presentations were to the point, matter-of-fact showcasing of solutions without dwelling much on 'victim' status of the communities. 

Another observation that was personally important to me - I saw on the stage several individuals and organisations that I had connected with at some point or other in the last 22 years of my professional career! I was really happy to see that all of us are still continuing to fight the 'good fight' in our own spheres of influence! I will surely be re-connecting with all of them in the near future and will explore what more we can do collectively. 

On this positive note I am now ending this series of blogs from COP27. Thank you all of those who read and encouraged me to keep this going! 

Climate Action must go hand in hand with SDGs to achieve climate justice

Day 5 Blog

Day 4 Blog

Day 3 Blog

Day 2 Blog

Day 1 Blog

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 5

 #COP27: Day 5

11 November was the BIG high security day with the US President Joe Biden coming to the COP stage. Given USA's track record with the UNFCCC process, the US presence at COPs should be protested as much as the presence of fossil fuel industry at COP is protested! But unfortunately, politics trumps ethical considerations in this case. 

If the Kyoto agreement had actually been delivered by the developed world, we would not be in the mess that we are currently in. The most important factor that weakened the Kyoto agreement was USA, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, walking out of the treaty. 

The successor to Kyoto agreement was to be structured by 2010 and should have been ready to be implemented by 2015 if not 2012 (the end date for Kyoto agreement). This process was stalled by President Obama. This delayed the formulation of Paris agreement to 2015 and then its implementation to 2022 - nearly 10 years delay during which the earth continued to heat up. 

In 2016 President Donald Trump pulled USA out of the Paris Agreement and almost derailed the second and perhaps the last chance that humanity had to avoid or at least contain a civilizational collapse. 

President Biden brought USA back into the Paris Agreement as one of his first actions on getting elected. He has in the two years of his regime enacted certain measures that are likely to reduce USA's emissions by about 40%. But all this is too little too less. And the question remains - what happens if in 2024 USA gets a Republican president? 

In spite of these uncertainties and past disappointments the world has no option but to continue hoping for more meaningful action from USA and applauding whatever little is thrown our way because of its political and economic clout across the world. 

I stayed away from all the hoopla around President Biden's visit and address at COP which I am sure has already been reported by the press. Instead, I attended a very relevant discussion organised in the SDG pavilion by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and collaborators. This discussion was about accountability. 

Big political leaders make lofty announcements at COP. Big businesses were racing against each other to announce carbon neutrality targets in last year's COP at Glasgow. Big Multilateral Development Banks make big promises of finance for low carbon and climate adaptive infrastructure in every COP. But there is no standard mechanism or process to check what is happening around these claims in an objective way. Where is the accountability? How do we build a structure that will infuse accountability in climate action? How to get reliable data that will allow third party assessment of the claims? That was the focus of this discussion. 

For private businesses the carbon accounting process is one concrete way by which fulfilment of promises of carbon neutrality can be checked. For me the most interesting slide was what I show in the photograph below. 

Accountability of Carbon neutrality pledges by the private sector

A carbon neutrality pledge is generally aimed at some future date like 2040 or 50 or beyond. This must be backed by an action plan with short term milestones that clearly show the path to be followed. Then standard protocols must be established for carbon accounting - not limited just to direct use of electricity and fossil fuels (what are called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions) but also accounting for the indirect emissions from actions such as sourcing of raw materials, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, managing waste on a daily basis and at the end of life of products, contracted out services, etc. (all of these are collectively called Scope 3 emissions). Current carbon accounting standards do not insist on Scope 3 accounting in spite of the fact that for many private sector entities this is the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint. And finally transparent and honest disclosure of the data is also important. 

All of this resonated very well with me because I have been saying more or less the same things for a few years. After Paris Agreement and the 1.5 deg C report by UNFCCC I felt that beyond investing in renewable energy infrastructure etc., the governments will have to eventually demand lowering of emissions by the private sector and might start including such pledges in the NDC. In that case it might become mandatory for companies to report their carbon emissions periodically. To an extent this has started appearing in NDcs from Europe. India cannot be far behind. 

I also felt that as more and more NGOs and institutions engage with the climate change issue, they should 'walk the talk' by going for low carbon operations and presenting the evidence to the world in a transparent way. 

Converting this thinking into action, we conducted a carbon accounting exercise for the headquarters of Laya, the secretariat of INECC. We have also tried to estimate the carbon emissions of some of our meetings and have tried to keep these as low as practically feasible. A few years ago, we launched a participatory process for educational institutions to go for carbon neutrality as a joint project by students, teachers and management, with our role as that of a mentor rather than a consultant. 

However, I could also see that in India we don't have enough people with even a basic understanding of what carbon accounting is - let alone be qualified carbon accountants and auditors. We need to build this basic understanding if carbon accounting is going to be a mainstreamed process in industry, academia and civil society. So, I launched an online course with the limited aim of building 'literacy' about carbon accounting around 2016. 

I in fact thought even beyond the accountability concerns that the panelists talked about. The IPCC Assessment Report 6 clearly stated that even stopping emissions is no longer going to be enough to meet the 1.5 deg C goal of the Paris Agreement. We have to also invest in removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Currently the only way to do that is to increase the land cover under natural ecosystems to sink the carbon into vegetation. Many of the carbon neutrality pledges are relying on creating carbon sinks. How does one account for that? I feel that the carbon accounting protocols need to include a component to estimate the 'sunk carbon' too. I have tried to include a flavour of that approach in my course. 

We ran the carbon accounting course in a rather amateurish and low-key manner for the past 5-6 years and then COVID happened. It has certainly opened my eyes to the various tools available and possibilities around online education. The course is currently being revamped in collaboration with 'Climatora'. Stay connected with Samuchit Enviro Tech on social media to know more about this! 

In the meanwhile, you can try our personal carbon footprint calculator in its new and revamped version made in collaboration with Climatora on this link.

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 4

 #COP27: Day 4

Organising a COP is a huge undertaking for any city and the host country. Tens of thousands of people would be descending on the city over a period of two weeks. There are protocols that need to be followed for heads of states from across the world, as well as their ministers and negotiators. The NGOs and research organisations and businesses that send their delegates are also increasing day by day. Egypt and Sherm al Sheikh have not done a great job with the logistics of the conference unfortunately, but more about this in a later blog! 

Typically, COP tends to take over a city and does not remain limited to the conference venue. There are a number of side events that happen at other venues across the city. There are also a few marches and processions that take the COP to the streets of the city. 

We keep on getting notifications of events happening outside the COP venue but one of those drew our attention due to its unique venue and title. This event was organised by an organisation named 'SISU' and was called Ancient Futures. It was to be held at the Sherm al Sheikh Museum in the evening. So, we decided to look in on it. 

The museum is an imposing building, but we did not go inside it. The event was held on an open terrace outside. The seating arrangement had a few chairs and a few mattresses and pillows. There was some food and beverages on offer for the attendees. 

The event was focused around listening to the voices of women from indigenous communities. We managed to catch the main component of the function which was going to go on for 4 hr. 

The speakers were three indigenous women from South America and Africa. They spoke very eloquently about the relationship of the indigenous people with the earth and specifically about the role of women of the community - which used to be more decisive and equal than modern communities. 

Ancient Futures Event

The argument made by the 'King' (she called herself the king while everyone else referred to her as queen... If one thinks of 'king' as a gender-neutral word for the main leader, her usage of the word was correct - somewhat similar to 'Rashtrapati' in the Indian context.) of a tribe from Africa was interesting. Referring to the history of humanity she asked - aren't we all indigenous people of Africa? Why should we make this distinction between 'indigenous' peoples and others merely on the basis of differences in ways of life? 

The lady from Brazil was recently elected to the Parliament and was a supporter of the newly elected leftist president Lulla. She explained that this time the indigenous communities strategically participated in the elections and took a lot of efforts to get the indigenous people to come out and vote. As a result, the number of elected representatives from the indigenous communities has gone up in the new parliament and hopefully that will help in addressing some of the commercial threats faced by the tribes in the Amazon forests. 

Apart from this the overall tone of the conversation was the usual spiel on how the earth is suffering because the women are suffering etc. 

The issues of gender equality are indeed an important socio-politico-economic challenge. It is not limited to indigenous communities but is far more universal, but yes, the disenfranchisement of indigenous women is far graver and devastating than that of women in the so-called modern societies. Environmental challenges in general and climate change impacts in particular also add to gender inequality. But I fail to understand why people need to respond to these realities from a place of 'emotions' than a place of 'rationality'. I also visited a booth by a US based university, and they are doing a project with young people across the world to help them relate to climate change with their 'hearts'. 

I have always felt that an accurate understanding of the science is a better way to get the heart involved in solving the large complex challenges that we face today. An understanding of the mitochondrial DNA that links all humans to a single ancestral woman that lived in Africa about 500,000 years ago is a more powerful argument for the kinship and therefore equality of all humans than any emotional appeal to the sense of justice and equality. Understanding the intricate feedback loops and connections between the earth's geological, climatic, and biological systems is essential to understanding the importance of maintaining these systems in their current forms for the survival of our species rather than calling the planet 'mother earth' and ourselves its 'protectors' and 'stewards'. 

The solution to climate change will of course need a wide variety of people to be involved in the fight and different things may motivate different people. But it is concerning to me that modern science is often looked upon as a villain as it is perceived as the trigger for the industrial revolution that heralded climate change. But the same industrial revolution also heralded the communication systems that allow us to connect with all humans across the world. The same industrial revolution also helped us overcome many deadly diseases and increased the average life span of humans. 

Solving climate change is not just about going back to the traditional ways of life because the climatic conditions that exist today have not been experienced by humans at all. The solution to climate change will come through a blending of traditional wisdom and modern scientific thinking. The proponents of both should respect and work with each other rather than looking down upon each other.  

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 3

 #COP27: Day 3

9 November 2022 was officially 'Finance Day'. The negotiators discussed finance for mitigation, adaptation and also for 'loss and damage'. The side events of the day were also focused on the theme of finance. 

As we entered the venue we came across an interesting protest displaying a dinosaur and a Pokémon! A number of young activists were speaking on how climate change induced disasters are affecting their countries. The demand of this protest was 'Stop Funding Fossil Fuels'. 

Stop Funding Fossil Fuels! 

I attended two side events - both organised by members of Climate Action Network (CAN) and focused on 'Adaptation' and 'Loss and Damage'. 

I am going to digress a bit and try to explain these terms. 

When it comes to climate action, the media and public discourse is generally focused on 'Mitigation' - reducing greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. This is important for slowing down future warming of planet earth. This requires moving away from fossil fuel use and change our land use pattern. Most of the climate finance is currently focused on this aspect. 

However there is also 'Adaptation'. The planet is already about 1.1 deg C warmer than the preindustrial era. This has changed the weather patterns and ecosystems around the world permanently. People now have to change their ways and means of life in order to deal with the changes. Some of the challenges may be solved by behavioural change (for example - change the timing of outdoor work to deal with excessively hot summers) but some require use of technology (for example - rainwater harvesting and storage for better water security in spite of the erratic rainfall). Financing for adaptation has been a contentious issue at COPs for a long time. Developed countries have promised big money but actually provided very little. 

A third front on climate action now is 'Loss and Damage'. As global average temperature has creeped up over the last few decades, many communities across the globe are facing an existential crisis (for example - the Maldives will be totally submerged in a decade or so even if all GHG emissions drop to zero today). As sea levels rise, coastal communities lose their lands and homes and therefore their way of life, culture and traditions. They are getting uprooted and displaced. As certain parts of the world are repeatedly hit by cyclones, people are losing lives and livelihoods. For a long time, the developed countries have tried to argue that dealing with such situations also should be considered 'Adaptation' (and therefore no separate funding is needed for this). But the developing countries have strongly argued that 'Loss and Damage' is happening because both 'Mitigation' and 'Adaptation' are failing. Some countries need urgent help while we strengthen the efforts on Mitigation and Adaptation. Finally, this year financing for 'Loss and Damage' is being discussed. The news is that the countries have agreed to put in place a mechanism for this 'no later than 2024'. 

The first side event in the morning was by CANSA (CAN South Asia) of which INECC is a member. There were presentations from Nepal and Bangladesh talking about how localised and community-centric action with co-operation and collaboration of government is helping these two highly affected countries adapt better and thereby minimise loss and damage. This exactly resonated with our own 'LDC for NDC' concept. Both the presentations also strongly highlighted the importance of the support of government machinery from local to national for more effective adaptation at the local level. 

The final speaker of the event was a Minister from Pakistan. Pakistan is proving to be the showcase of 'Loss and Damage' in this COP. As the minister said - the country suffered an extremely hot summer followed by unprecedented and devastating floods during the monsoon season, and now it is entering what is likely to be an extremely cold winter! Climate change is really hammering them hard from all sides! It is no wonder therefore that the Pakistan pavilion has a caption 'Lost and Damaged' prominently on display. 

One important point that was made in this side event was around the nature of finance. Even though it is a moral obligation of the developed world to help the developing world deal with climate change, 70% of the climate finance available (of all categories) is in the form of debt and that too at very high interest rates! Strong arguments are therefore being made on all fronts that existing debts be written off and future finance not have a 'debt' component. One slide that presented eye opening statistics in this context is what you can see below. 

The Climate Debt Trap

The second side event was organised by CAN and a few collaborators. Its focus was 'Loss and Damage'. It had presentations from Malawi in Africa and Bangladesh. There were also presentations about how women are more affected than men when it comes to loss and damage. All in all there were very moving presentations starkly highlighting the plight of the vulnerable communities. One important point made was that while a lot of funding pours in for disaster relief when a tragedy strikes, not much finance is available for preventive or preparatory measures. It is hoped that the 'Loss and Damage' funding will address this gap. 

As my colleague Pournima pointed out - often in the discussion on loss and damage, the communities come across as helpless and clueless people doing nothing as disasters creep on them. But the ground reality is that communities can exhibit resilience and resourcefulness. They are not totally without any agency of their own! They of course need a helping hand - in the form of finance as well as in the form of knowledge and data. 

The loss and damage finance facility needs to focus on empowering communities to protect and rescue themselves in a sustainable way. Our 'LDC for NDC' process is showcasing some of the success stories of this approach. 

Day 2 Blog

Day 1 Blog

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 2

 #COP27: Day 2

8 November 2022, the second day of COP27, was an important day for our team. We were going to kick off the calendar of side events! 

While the UNFCCC COP is primarily about various government representatives negotiating the future of state-lead climate action across the world, the observer organisations attending the conference have their own calendar of events. In this COP we have been assigned a booth for 3 days and we were also allotted a slot for a side event. We had applied for a side event a few months ago, but we were waitlisted (many organisations are keen to have their say on the global platform, however there are space and time constraints). We were finally sanctioned a side event after we agreed to merge with another organisation. This happens a lot of the times and generally the collaborators try to present a single cohesive side event of 1.5 hr duration. Sometimes it does not work out that way - which was our case this time. 

We thus had 45 min to say our piece. As the moderator of the session I am happy to say that everything worked smoothly, the speakers stayed on schedule, and we managed to hand over the stage to the next moderator on the 44th minute. I feel rather proud of our team work and planning that made this work in an effortless manner. 

Laya Side Event COP27: 
From L to R: Nakul Sharma, Martin Voss, Myron Mendes, Priyadarshini Karve

So what was our side event about? 

We talked on 'Locally Developed Choices' for 'Nationally Determined Contributions' - LDC for NDC. This is INECC's current theme of action and we wanted to talk about it with the global audience. The gist of our argument is this: 

Paris Agreement is not just about keeping the warming below 1.5 deg C, it also talks about helping the climate-affected populations for adaptation. However, this aspect has always been ignored by the UN negotiators. This year finally the COP is looking at 'Loss and Damage' (more about this in a latter blog!) but the developing countries really had to struggle hard to get the topic on the discussion agenda. If one looks at the NDCs (commitments by individual national governments under Paris Agreement) these too only talk about mitigation. As a result, when climate change impacts hit locally, communities have to fend for themselves. This is however leading to some innovative choices being developed locally (LDC) that can not only achieve adaptation but also contribute to mitigation. For the last couple of years INECC has been trying to document such LDC and trying to build an awareness raising as well as policy advocacy campaign around these initiatives. 

Laya Side Event @ COP27:
Priyadarshini explaining '
LDC for NDC'
In the side event I explained the 'LDC for NDC' concept with the example of lacunae in India's NDC and also briefly described the work we have done so far on this theme. My colleague Myron Mendes presented the case study of Laya's work on resilience building among the indigenous communities in the Eastern Ghats through technology interventions in agriculture and basic services. Nakul Sharma of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) presented a case study of local action for adaptation from Nepal which described a wonderful collaboration between local community groups and local government. The final speaker was Martin Voss of GermanWatch who talked about how the big multilateral banks can and should fund replication of such success stories... but unfortunately are still stuck in the conventional thinking of pouring money into big infrastructure projects. 

Even though we had 4 speakers and only 45 minutes, we had structured the session in such a way as to keep 10 minutes for questions and comments from the floor. And this turned out to be a very good decision! We had an audience of about 20-30 people. A member of the organisation leading the local action in Nepal was present in the audience and gave some additional detail on the case study presented by Nakul. The theme of LDC for NDC seemed to have really resonated with people from Africa in the audience. A couple of them made very moving comments on personal experiences of how the local reality is being ignored by the state-driven 'climate action'. One audience member pointed out the importance of understanding local vulnerabilities to shape adaptation - basically that funding for adaptation and resilience building must be targeted at ecosystem community level rather than at country level.  

All in all, I can say that we managed to get our point across. We felt highly encouraged by the reactions from the audience and hope to build an international momentum behind LDC for NDC! 

The side event was livestreamed and for those who are interested here is the link. We are in the first 45 min.  

Day 1 Blog

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 1

 #COP27: Day 1

UNFCCC's annual conference of parties (COP) is held every year during November. While the main work of negotiating for global climate action goes on through diplomatic and ministerial meetings the Observer Organisations (mainly civil society and academic organisations as well as religious faith groups) have the opportunity to connect with like minded people across the world. 

I am here at Sherm Al Sheikh in Egypt for the 27th edition of the COP and as a part of a delegation from 'Laya' the secretariat of Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC). 

On Day 1 - 7 Nov 2022 - we primarily set up the exhibition booth which has been allotted to us for 3 days. In the photograph you see us at our stall. 

From L to R: Durgesh of SayTrees, Pournima of Laya, INECC & Samuchit, Priyadarshini of INECC & Samuchit, Myron of INECC & Laya

A little bit of walking around the exhibition booths and various pavilions and soaking up the overall atmosphere and vibe is all I have done on Day 1. 

It is always interesting to visit the various country pavilions. Typically, they follow two approaches. One approach is to create a lot of open space for people to sit and talk and listen to various events happening within the country pavilion. There is some information about the country's climate action but presented subtly through posters etc. Most of the developed country pavilions are in this format. The other approach is to flamboyantly display the past and present of the country and create a welcoming vibe to tempt people to drop in and have a chat. Some also offer souvenirs from the country. This is the format followed by the developing countries generally.  

India pavilion however does neither which is perhaps appropriate as we are always in this identity crisis of whether we are developed or developing! The pavilion is a very officious and high-tech display of central government schemes contributing to climate action. There are slogans everywhere about how India's climate action is 'people-centric' but there are hardly any 'people' in the overall display. There is a closed seating area at the back for interactions being held within the pavilion. It is a tiny space with just about 20 chairs... Not expecting a lot of audience for events in the pavilion perhaps? 

A view of the India Pavilion at COP27

We have an official side event coming up on Day 2. Based on the calendar put out by UNFCC this will be the first side event of this COP and we have been assigned a 150-seater room for this. If you have any friends or colleagues at COP27 please ask them to drop by! The event is open to all registered delegates. 

Laya - INECC Side Event Invitation

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Saturday, June 25, 2022

My City My Responsibility - River Rejuvenation Campaign#3

 We at Samuchit Enviro Tech, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC) and Jeevitnadi Living River Foundation are opposing the Riverfront Development plan being enforced by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Since the plan totally disregards river ecology and impacts of climate change we want the project to be cancelled and a genuinely nature-aligned river rejuvenation undertaken in a democratic and transparent manner.

समुचित एन्व्हायरो टेक, इंडियन नेटवर्क ऑन एथिक्स अॅंड क्लायमेट चेंज (आयनेक) आणि जीवितनदी लिव्हिंग रिव्हर फाउंडेशन या सर्व संस्था पुणे मनपा पुढे रेटू पहात असलेल्या नदीकाठ विकास प्रकल्पाला विरोध करत आहेत. या प्रकल्पात नदीची परिसंस्था व जागतिक वातावरण बदलाचे परिणाम यांच्याकडे पूर्णतः दुर्लक्ष केलेले असल्याने हा प्रकल्प रद्द करावा व लोकशाही पध्दतीने व पारदर्शकपणे सच्चे निसर्ग-पूरक असे नदी पुनरुज्जीवन हाती घ्यावे ही आमची मागणी आहे.

Image 3 - Natural Rejuvenation

PMC or Rejuvenation?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! A structured and manicured garden may look good for
a while but will become boring soon. But the wilderness of a natural forest simply lifts your spirit! A beautiful array of built-embankments with artificially carved out spaces for human recreation makes a pleasing image indeed. But then the natural beauty of a meandering free flowing river between naturally wild riverbanks too energizes us! So how do we say what is right and what is wrong?? 
The real question to ask is not what looks beautiful on paper today but which of these images is
long lasting and sustainable say beyond a decade from now? 
Constructed structures are always trying to hold back nature. They need constant service and
maintenance. As the city’s financial fortunes ebb and flow and political priorities swing between
two extremes, the beautifully constructed structures are at a high risk of falling into disrepair in a
decade or so.
Water made artificially still will stagnate and become polluted. Natural constructs on the other hand
are by default aligned with the forces of nature. These ‘greenscapes’ will change too but in harmony
with natural forces. The free-flowing river teeming with natural life will keep on self-cleaning itself.
What the river needs is REMOVAL of human interference rather than excessive heavy-handed
attempts to ‘tame’ it! A free river will endow the settlement on its banks with beauty and serenity,
water and food security, protection from the impacts of climate change, and many more blessings! 
So think carefully! What is your choice? PMC’s plan or Ecological Rejuvenation?
For more information and to participate in the movement against the PMC's riverfront development plan, please visit:

पुणे महानगरपालिकेची योजना की नदी पुनरुज्जीवन?

सौंदर्य बघणाऱ्याच्या नजरेत असते! भौमितिक रचनेतील आखीवरेखीव बाग काही काळ चांगली दिसेल पण कालांतराने
कंटाळवाणी होईल. पण नैसर्गिक जंगलाचा मोकळेढाकळे पणा  मनाला उभारी देतो! बांधकामाने उभारलेल्या कृत्रीम
किनाऱ्यांची मालिका व मानवी करमणुकीसाठी त्यात केलेल्या नियोजनबध्द जागा ही डोळ्यांना सुखावणारी प्रतिमा आहे.
पण नैसर्गिक हिरवाई असलेल्या नदीकाठांमधून वळणे घेत मुक्त वाहणाऱ्या नदीचे नैसर्गिक सौंदर्य आपल्याला ऊर्जा देते!
मग काय योग्य आणि अयोग्य हे आपण कसे म्हणायचे?? 
खरा प्रश्न आज कागदावर काय सुंदर दिसत आहे हा नाही, तर यापैकी कोणती प्रतिमा दीर्घकाळ - किमान एक दशकभर -
टिकणारी आणि शाश्वत आहे, हा आहे.  
माणसांनी बांधलेल्या रचना नेहमीच निसर्गाला रोखण्याचा प्रयत्न करत असतात. त्यांना सतत देखभाल आणि दुरुस्तीची गरज
आहे. पुढच्या दशकभरात  शहराचे अर्थकारण चढउतारांमधून जाईल आणि राजकीय प्राधान्यक्रम दोन टोकांमध्ये झुलत
राहतील. अशा परिस्थितीत सुंदर बांधलेल्या रचना दशकभरात दुर्लक्षित होऊन मोडून पडण्याचा धोका मोठा आहे.
कृत्रिमरित्या स्थिर केलेले पाणीही या कालावधीत प्रदूषित होऊन जाईल. निसर्गाने केलेल्या रचना मुळातच निसर्गाच्या
शक्तींशी जुळवून घेत तयार होत असतात. हे 'ग्रीनस्केप' देखील बदलतील पण हे बदल नैसर्गिक शक्तींशी सुसंगत असतील.
समृध्द सजीवसृष्टीने परिपूर्ण असलेली मुक्त वाहणारी नदी स्वत:ची स्वच्छता करत राहील. आज नदीला गरज आहे ती तिला
'काबूत' ठेवण्याच्या अवाजवी प्रयत्नांऐवजी मानवी हस्तक्षेप काढून टाकण्याची! एक मुक्त नदी तिच्या काठावरील वस्तीला
सौंदर्य आणि शांतता, पाणी आणि अन्न सुरक्षितता, हवामान बदलाच्या प्रभावापासून संरक्षण आणि इतरही बरीच वरदाने देईल! 
तर मग नीट विचार करा! तुम्ही काय निवडाल? पुणे महानगरपालिकेची योजना की पर्यावरणाशी सुसंगत नदी पुनरुज्जीवन?

अधिक माहितीसाठी आणि पुणे मनपाच्या नदीकाठ विकास प्रकल्पाच्या विरोधातील मोहिमेत सहभागी होण्यासाठी कृपया पहा -

Like/Follow/Share us on FacebookInstagramTwitter  Citizens of Sustainable Pune

Friday, June 24, 2022

My City My Responsibility - River Rejuvenation Campaign#2

 We at Samuchit Enviro Tech, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC) and Jeevitnadi Living River Foundation are opposing the Riverfront Development plan being enforced by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Since the plan totally disregards river ecology and impacts of climate change we want the project to be cancelled and a genuinely nature-aligned river rejuvenation undertaken in a democratic and transparent manner.

समुचित एन्व्हायरो टेक, इंडियन नेटवर्क ऑन एथिक्स अॅंड क्लायमेट चेंज (आयनेक) आणि जीवितनदी लिव्हिंग रिव्हर फाउंडेशन या सर्व संस्था पुणे मनपा पुढे रेटू पहात असलेल्या नदीकाठ विकास प्रकल्पाला विरोध करत आहेत. या प्रकल्पात नदीची परिसंस्था व जागतिक वातावरण बदलाचे परिणाम यांच्याकडे पूर्णतः दुर्लक्ष केलेले असल्याने हा प्रकल्प रद्द करावा व लोकशाही पध्दतीने व पारदर्शकपणे सच्चे निसर्ग-पूरक असे नदी पुनरुज्जीवन हाती घ्यावे ही आमची मागणी आहे.

Image 2 Concretization of rivers

Concrete Intoxication

Natural banks are not just a rock, soil , sand etc.. but also marshes, rocky outcrops, etc. ( under natural banks) held together by the root zones of a variety of vegetation – trees, shrubs, grasses and so on. A world of fishes, insects, birds, and many other animals thrive around this habitat.  When the river floods the WATER overflows into the flood plains (which are also natural riparian that reduce temperature, increases soil moisture and reduce evaporation losses) and eventually recedes and in the process nurtures this ecosystem. The vegetation on the riverbanks also helps reduce the speed of the overflowing water during floods reducing damage and destruction. 

But then… humans took over. Land covered by vegetation in the middle of a city? Such a waste

of space! Let’s concretise and commercialise! The natural river bank is replaced by a ‘concrete

retaining wall’ with some cosmetic vegetation to hide the concrete. But this fails to retain anything!

When it floods the water is now gushing faster! The ‘reclaimed’ land in the floodplains has rigid

concrete buildings replacing flexible firm-rooted vegetation. Submergence is now a bane rather

than a boon! 

With climate change leading to INCREASE in rainfall per episode of rain, the flooding is now

UNPRECEDENTED year on year! What is actually needed is to strengthen the natural riverbanks

– to lessen the force of flooding waters. What is being done is ‘hardscape’ concrete banks and

concrete structures - adding to the destructive power of floods! 

Are we paying taxes to PMC to destroy our beloved city?? Just think about it.   

For more information and to participate in the movement against the PMC's riverfront development plan, please visit:

काँक्रीटची नशा

नदीचा नैसर्गिक काठ म्हणजे फक्त खडक, माती, वाळू इतकेच नाही, तर झाडे, झुडुपे, गवत इत्यादी विविध प्रकारच्या वनस्पतींच्या मुळांच्या जाळ्याद्वारे एकत्र ठेवलेले दलदल, खडक, इ. घटक असतात. या नैसर्गिक संरचनेभोवती मासे, कीटक, पक्षी आणि इतर अनेक प्राण्यांची दुनिया वसलेली आहे. जेव्हा नदीला पूर येतो तेव्हा पाणी नदीच्या पूरक्षेत्रात येते (नदीचे पूरक्षेत्र ही पण एक नैसर्गिक परिसंस्था आहे - हिच्यामुळे परिसराचे तापमान कमी होते, जमिनीतील ओलावा वाढतो आणि बाष्पीभवनाने होणारा पाण्याच ऱ्हास कमी होतो) आणि नंतर ओसंडते. या प्रक्रियेत या परिसंस्थेचे पोषण होते. नदीकाठावरील वनस्पती देखील पुराच्या वेळी ओसंडून वाहणाऱ्या पाण्याचा वेग कमी करून नुकसान आणि विनाश कमी करण्यास मदत करतात. 

पण कालांतराने… माणसांनी हे क्षेत्र ताब्यात घेतले. शहराच्या मध्यभागी हरित आच्छादित जमीन? जागेचा असा अपव्यय! चला कॉंक्रीटीकरण आणि व्यापारीकरण करूया! नैसर्गिक नदीकाठाच्या जागी आता आली 'काँक्रीटची संरक्षक भिंत' आणि हे कॉंक्रिट लपवण्यासाठी कृत्रीमपणे केलेली थोडी हिरवाईची लागवड. पण ही भिंत कशाचेही संरक्षण करण्यात अपयशी ठरते! पूर आला की पाणी आता अधिक वेगाने वाहते! नैसर्गिक पूरक्षेत्रात कृत्रिमरीत्या तयार केलेल्या जमिनीवर लवचिक घट्ट रुजलेल्या वनस्पतींच्या जागी आता काँक्रीटच्या अजिबात लवचिकता नसलेल्या इमारती आहेत. जमीन जलमय होणे आता वरदान न राहता शाप बनले आहे! 

जागतिक वातावरण बदलामुळे प्रत्येक पाऊस पडण्याच्या प्रसंगी पावसाचे प्रमाण वाढत चालले आहे. त्यामुळे दरवर्षी पुराची तीव्रता अभूतपूर्व रित्या वाढते आहे! पुराच्या पाण्याचा जोर कमी करण्यासाठी प्रत्यक्षात नैसर्गिक नदीकाठ बळकट करणे आवश्यक आहे. पण जे केले जात आहे ते म्हणजे 'हार्डस्केप' काँक्रीटचे किनारे आणि काँक्रीटच्या इमारती - हे सारे पुराच्या विनाशकारी शक्तीमध्ये भर घालत आहेत! 

आपले लाडके शहर उद्ध्वस्त करण्यासाठी आपण पुणे महानगरपालिकेला कर देत आहोत का? जरा विचार करा!

अधिक माहितीसाठी आणि पुणे मनपाच्या नदीकाठ विकास प्रकल्पाच्या विरोधातील मोहिमेत सहभागी होण्यासाठी कृपया पहा -

Like/Follow/Share us on FacebookInstagramTwitter  Citizens of Sustainable Pune