Capacity Building for Minimising Climate Risks
The explicit issue of climate change has a broad spectrum of impacts on the human civilisation, ranging from erratic weather patterns to lowered crop yields and imminent water shortage throughout the year. It thus becomes a pressing need to adapt our development processes such as to make our cities resilient to aid mitigation for both the people and the environment. It involves building capacities, providing technological support, influencing governance and markets and providing institutional support.
A capacity building exercise carried out by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has been aided by USAID as a part of their Climate Change Resilient Development (CCRD) project. The vision of the project was to help the city of Panaji to plan for climate related risks and implement strategies to minimise losses from such risks. Panaji is the prime tourist spot of Goa, India’s smallest state with a coastline of 105 km. The city is vulnerable to getting flooded by the rising sea levels in the Arabian Sea. The project aimed to study and comprehend the type of infrastructure in the city and the subsequent vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise. An inventory of urban infrastructure was thus developed, whilst being linked to other influencing factors. Consequently, a prudent and rapid methodological approach to assess the climate vulnerability of infrastructure was developed and demonstrated by TERI, to help the decision makers for redefining the infrastructure services of the city and addressing its climate vulnerability at all levels - planning, governance, financial and structural. The project has yielded two significant outputs: a spatial identification of hotspots in Panaji and an electronic Database Management System (DBMS) that has a scrutinised record of non-climatic information of the city like transport systems, water, communication systems and industries, which were also linked to GIS for accuracy.
The study essentially included a spatial inventory of the city’s infrastructure to show the land use and sector wise infrastructure classification, which were included in the DBMS for instant reference by decision makers and urban planners. For the climatic data, sea level rise has been considered as the main focus, although precipitation trends for the last few years, sea level trends and proposed rise have also been taken into account. This analysis has helped in listing out the vulnerable zones which are Khazan land and mangroves and the creeks and sand dunes in and around Panaji.
This listing was followed by a sensitivity/ vulnerability mapping analysis of the city systems. The SLR scenarios and infrastructural assets were overlaid on the city’s DEM to give us an indication of the sector wise assets that would be impacted and the severity of the impacts.
The table thus helps in identifying the most vulnerable areas and systems in the city that require imperative attention and action. The study in its concluding remarks points out that water supply, solid waste management, sanitation, transport and social infrastructure systems in the city are most vulnerable. Also, the ecologically sensitive areas are being continuously threatened. The adaptive capacity of the city was also reviewed by analysing state level documents, laws and guidelines and conducting discussions with sectoral experts and planners.
This factual and scientific exercise shall be the initial step in a series of such studies to help cities identify their weakest areas and for planners and decision makers to refer to while looking for realistic and practical solutions to urban developmental issues. ■