Gargi Parsai

M.S. Swaminathan for blending of structures with people’s needs

The government is formulating strategies on eight national missions

‘Blending traditional knowledge with modern science can take us forward’

NEW DELHI: Union Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal differed on the approach to strategising adaptation to climate change, at an international conference here.

The meet, “National Policy Dialogue on Adaptation to Climate Change,” was organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in collaboration with the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Action for Food Production and other partners. The government is formulating strategies on eight national missions set up under the National Action Plan on Climate Change for adoption at the local level.

While Mr. Aiyar bemoaned that his Ministry, which dealt with panchayats, was not taken on board the National Action Plan, Mr. Sibal preferred a top-down approach to planning, which, he said, should to be executed with the participation of locals.

Traditional knowledge

Agricultural scientist Swaminathan espoused community-level adaptation to climate change. He sought a blending of structures and management with people’s needs. “Blending traditional knowledge with ancient wisdom and modern science can take us forward.”

Mr. Aiyar emphasised that unless the entire community was mobilised and unless advantage was taken of the local bodies, the country could not succeed in its programme for adaptation to climate change.

On the other hand, Mr. Sibal stressed that the mitigation of climate change would have to be a national-level effort. “What steps should be taken and what strategies needed to be worked out are a national-level effort. Then we can ensure that communities are taken on board.”

Mr. Sibal said the solution would come from science and technology and it would have to take into account local communities as each country and each region were differently circumstanced.

According to Dr. Swaminathan, the purpose of the dialogue was to build a coping capacity of local populations through information, training and awareness. The multiscale linkages of adaptation to development would have to be at the international, regional, national and local levels. The national level linkage would entail the National Action Plan through the Five-Year Plans, Energy Policy, Water Policy and Land Use Policy. The local level linkage would involve biomass-based energy solutions, community-managed water resource systems, land use for food and economic security and livestock as supplementary livelihood.

Earlier at a press conference, the lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Atiq Rahman, made it clear that climate change was not a developing country issue. “The impact of climate change would become intense in the days to come. The poor and vulnerable populations that were already facing an extraordinary situation due to 70 per cent increase in cereal price, market distortions and biofuel crisis were in no position to take any more. “The world would have to a relook at Official Development Assistance (ODA) so that the poor and vulnerable populations were compensated — anew and additional.”