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Some states becoming more vulnerable to climate change

According to recently published report, “Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework” states in eastern part of the country like, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal have relatively high requiring prioritisation of adaptation interventions. States with relatively high vulnerability are mostly poor states with a low per capita income and low Human Development Index, indicating a low overall adaptive capacity. However, it doesn’t mean that other states are safe as the state-level vulnerability indices vary over a small range: 0.42-0.67, meaning all states must deal with concerns related to vulnerability. In other words, all districts or states are vulnerable, but some are relatively more vulnerable than others, requiring prioritised adaptation interventions.

According to The Germanwatch Global Climate Risk Index – 2019, India ranked 5th out of 181 countries, implying an extremely high exposure and vulnerability. This ranking is based on quantified impacts of extreme weather events in terms of fatalities as well as economic losses that have occurred during 1999-2018.

So, there is no denying that climate change is one of the greatest concerns today. Climate change is the global phenomenon especially caused by human activities and is a growing challenge to humanity and sustainable development. Adapting to the present and future impacts of climate change is crucial to secure hard won gains and increase the resilience of vulnerable communities, in particular for those living in the fragile mountain ecosystems.

Climate variability and change directly affect the productivity of natural resources. Any alteration in the quality and availability of natural resources will have far-reaching implications on resource users and the extensive social and economic systems they support. Thus, higher dependency on natural resources for income generation increases vulnerability.

Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to multiple communities and sectors and introduces a relatively large uncertainty. To reduce this uncertainty and plan for sustainable development it is essential to build the capacity of various concerned departments to assess vulnerability, with good knowledge of the local conditions and context.

In order to tackle the challenges posed by climate change, not only the capacity of individual departments working with state governments has to be developed, but also adopting a coordinated and common approach within all states in India has to be emphasised. This is important, because cooperation between states will enhance their understanding and assessment of vulnerability, and in turn their understanding of adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change.

While the mitigation of climate hazards and the reduction of exposure are relatively long-term goals, governments should, meanwhile, address climate change adaptation most effectively by reducing vulnerability in the short and medium-term.

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