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Document Abstract
Published: 2016

South Asia Regional Diagnostic Study

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India faces a dynamic climatic and non-climatic risk profile. These climatic and non-climatic risks, separately and in interaction, make people and systems highly vulnerable. Key vulnerabilities and risks are found to be deeply embedded within the existing social and biophysical conditions of people and socio-ecological systems, which emerge as critical barriers to effective, widespread and sustained adaptation.

ASSAR has recently completed its Regional Diagnostic Study phase which took stock of the current state of knowledge on the extant and emergent climatic and non-climatic risks in Africa and India. During this phase ASSAR explored why different people are differentially vulnerable to these risks and how people, governments and other stakeholders at various scales are responding to current and future climatic and non-climatic challenges.

Most current development-adaptation interventions in India and the sub-regions focus on water and agricultural sectors. Evidence from various adaptation projects suggests that risk management strategies at various scales and initiated by various actors, are enabling building of local adaptive capacities. However, such changes are not uniform across regions, sectors or scales. India’s rural systems have seen relatively higher and longer investment in direct climate change adaptation projects, as well as those that have adaptation co-benefits such as interventions for livelihood diversification, biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. Given large development deficits and the vulnerabilities of the rural poor, coping strategies to manage risk are more common than adaptive action.

Governance and institutional barriers emerge as a key constraint to ongoing and future adaptation. Governance in much of India is fragmented, making coordination across different agencies and scales challenging. Cities in particular accumulate and generate new risks through unplanned development and deepening inequality. Urban settlements are vulnerable to food, energy and water fragility and consequent social and political unrest. Planning, including for risk management, often takes place at higher levels of government, while the role of local bodies, civil society and communities tends to be that of implementation with little room for innovation. The ways in which governance acts as a key barrier to adaptation are a) multiplicity and redundancy of actors and institutions, b) fragmentation of planning and execution, c) prevalence of top-down planning, d) institutional rigidity and path dependency and e) absence of certain actors and sectors in the planning process such as private sector participation and health.

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