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Addressing climate risks: Bridging science and policy

Introduction

Risks arising out of climate change are many and manifest across regions, for example, coasts face a different threat as compared to the mountains. Owing to these varied impacts arising out of varied climate risks, governing climate change is ever so difficult. A step forward towards building resilience and addressing climate risks is to bridge the gap between science and policy across administrative levels (villages, district, state and country). Research taken up with an aim to aid in climate change adaptation has an imperative to address this in order to ensure maximum benefit to people.

Bridging Science and Policy:

Achieving this linkage would entail the inclusion of stakeholders across all levels. It must be ensured that all stakeholders (academicians, policymakers and communities amongst others) are accounted for from the very inception of the research, for it is important for policies to meet people's aspirations while being grounded in science. It also provides scope to recalibrate aspirations in light of scientific facts and builds acceptability to policy. That said, realising this linkage is not a cakewalk either. Given that this process entails multiple stakeholders, certain practical issues in bringing together and engaging with stakeholders exist. One of the most important aspects is not just to take into account all stakeholders, but to also make the scientific outputs from the research more accessible and communicable to this basket of stakeholders.

In an effort towards improving and enabling this linkage, the India lead, and partners of the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia, had come together on the sidelines of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2016 Beyond 2015: People, Planet and Progress (October 2016, New Delhi) to initiate a dialogue amongst stakeholders.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) and Jadavpur University (JU) along with their partners hosted the event that saw panellists talk about the means to and bottlenecks in achieving an effective science-policy interface. It was acknowledged by the panel that climate risks, such as floods, erratic rainfall and droughts, are varied, both in intensity and occurrence. The panel also spoke on issues ranging from political will to individual capacities, consensus on which is difficult to garner, that in turn influence effective action on climate change.

The open house that ensued added to the enriching debate and the means to achieve a common ground between scientific and political aspirations was discussed. To sum it up, research around climate change has to ensure linkages towards action and policy while retaining its essence, in order to help insulate and improve livelihoods in the light of climatic shocks to be experienced- this will be a critical step towards building resilience.

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