Climate change: IITs to develop vulnerability map for 12 Himalayan states

For the first time, all 12 Himalayan states will use a common framework resulting in the production of comparable vulnerability maps, which will help prioritise resource allocation.

Climate change: IITs to develop vulnerability map for 12 Himalayan states
Mapping climate change in the Himalayas (Representative image)

Last week, IIT Guwahati, IIT Mandi and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore announced collaboration in a pan-Indian, multi-institutional initiative to develop a ‘Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework’. The exercise is unique because for the first time all the 12 Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) states have used a common framework resulting in the production of comparable state-level and within state, district-level vulnerability maps.

“Such comparable vulnerability assessments are useful for government officials, implementers, decision-makers, funding agencies and development experts to have a common understanding on vulnerability, enabling them to assess which state in IHR is more vulnerable, what has made them vulnerable, and how they might address these vulnerabilities,” the institutes said in a statement.

The principle investigators of the project are Anamika Barua (IIT Guwahati) and Shyamasree Dasgupta (IIT Mandi), and the key resource person is NH Ravindranath (IISc Bangalore). They noted that such a coordinated approach is assumed to improve resilience to climate change because several adaptation interventions will require coordinated efforts across administrative boundaries.

The 12 states include Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and the hilly districts of West Bengal in the eastern part and Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir in western part of IHR.

Highlighting the impact of the project, Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, said, “The adaptation to climate change is a collaborative effort between appropriate use of technology, a vision that produces policies, a change at the ground level, and engaging the local communities. These vulnerability maps will play a crucial role in this effort.”

Several workshops for need-assessment and methodology training were organised over the past year by IIT Guwahati and IIT Mandi as a part of this initiative. Timothy A Gonsalves, director, IIT Mandi, added, “Being situated in IHR, IIT Mandi is proud to be a part of this vulnerability assessment exercise.”

The need for such an exercise assumes importance because IHR is one of the most sensitive regions to climate change and variability. Most parts of the region have undergone significant long-term changes in frequencies and intensity of extreme temperature and rainfall events over the last few decades.
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