Understanding the Nuances of Climate Change in the Indian Subcontinent: Impact and Way Forward is an Online International Monsoon School Program, a Six-Week Immersive Online Introductory Certificate Training Course from August-September 2023 by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute. An informative and interactive panel discussion on“Climate Change and Water”was held on the 19th of August 2023 by, Mr K J Joy, Founding Member and Senior Fellow, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune.
Introduction: Climate Change and Water
The speaker opens up with a new tangent of interaction between climate anthropogenic factors and water. Discussing his articles on “climate change and rural water security” and the principles of what the governance in the post COVID world and water sector needs to be appended in environmental justice. India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history millions of lives are under threat second it says 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress now, when you say 600 million it is close to about 50% of the Indian population. Roughly 200,000 individuals lose their lives due to the lack of access to clean water.
Speaker highlighted the consequences faced by Bangladesh and other coastal areas like Sri Lanka due to the water level rise happening because of climate change. The South Asian region notably experiences significant events like glacier outbursts and heightened precipitation, particularly in the Himalayas.
Recent scientific research advises caution in tampering with runoff in ways that could have a significant impact on freshwater flows into the sea and things inflamed quoting from a study from ministry of earth sciences which is a multi-institution ocean mixing study was done from 2014 to 2020 which clearly says in the Ganga Meghna Base in GBM basin, an empirical study which tempering with runoff from major reversal impact coastal upwelling, basin scale, ocean temperature, upper ocean, mixing salinity, ocean biology and dissolved oxygen concentration as well as monsoon rainfall in unknown and
unanticipated ways so the whole damn building which is taking place in a big manner especially in the north-eastern part of India and the lot of huge hydropower projects which are coming up will impact the downstream flows, as well as the mega projects, is going to have very serious consequences for we can exaggerate climate change.
Minimum Extraction Maximum Flow
In the context of many South Asian countries, an essential issue centers around asserting the rights of various groups, a topic that necessitates comprehensive discussion and robust debate. The intricacies surrounding representation and definitions present a series of challenges, particularly concerning those who advocate for river rights. Amidst these uncertainties, there’s an urgent need to delve into these complexities, as the pivotal question revolves around whether such a legislative measure can offer comprehensive legal protection to our rivers.
Shifting our focus, it’s imperative to transcend the limitations of supply-side solutions. While they serve a purpose, they are not without boundaries. Instead, we should emphasize demand management options. This approach seeks to curtail our collective water footprint. To contextualize this, we can delineate water into three categories. First is “green water,” which signifies soil moisture available for direct plant usage. Second, “blue water,” involves water stored behind dams and groundwater aquifers. The third, known as “gray water,” encompasses reusable wastewater generated from various sources, such as domestic and agricultural use.
Amidst these categories, gray water is of particular importance. Despite our lacklustre track record, recognizing that approximately 80% of gray water is potentially reusable underscores its significance. This reservoir of gray water, if harnessed through recycling and reusing practices, can have a substantial positive impact. Neglecting to treat water before it infiltrates aquifers and water bodies can trigger a cascade of negative consequences. Therefore, we must emphasize the conservation of green water, the adept use of gray water, especially in agriculture, which accounts for a substantial 80-85% of fresh water consumption.
Strategizing Climate Adaptation Process
In considering the approach, it becomes imperative to incorporate anthropogenic factors into the equation. This entails recognizing the significance of policy frameworks that prioritize equality, steering us away from the tendency to perceive everything through a lens of naturalization and climate adaptation. Reshaping this perspective is pivotal. A key aspect of this transformation lies in altering our worldviews and mindsets regarding our relationship with the natural world.
To forge ahead, an essential element revolves around shifting away from the prevailing cycle of intervention and dominance, akin to a hydraulic cycle, and transitioning toward a mode of coexistence. Rather than seeking to manipulate nature, our focus should centre on harmonizing with natural processes. This transformation necessitates a collective alignment of individuals and societies with the fundamental conditions of nature, embracing its innate processes while championing principles of equity and distributive justice.
Incorporating these ideals extends to the realm of environmental justice, where participation and tradition intersect. Embracing environmental justice enables us to uphold the principles of equity and fairness, ensuring that all stakeholders have a voice in shaping the future. In doing so, we foster a holistic approach that redefines our relationship with the environment, progressing towards a state of equilibrium and symbiosis with the natural world.
To conclude the session, Mr. Joy tried to unfold the fact that management systems should be in level iterative. To bring out the voice of underprivileged communities, democracy in the water sector need to be stronger. Different stakeholder of different scales needs to get engaged in the platform in allocation of the resource where there’s a conflict across different sectors drinking water versus agriculture rural versus urban industry.
Acknowledgement: Mansi Gang is a research intern at IMPRI.
Read more event reports of IMPRI here