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India Releases Draft of Ambitious Green Mission

Shravya Reddy

Posted May 28, 2010

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On May 24, India unveiled the draft of its National Green Mission, one of the eight missions under its National Action Plan on Climate Change.   This is exciting news, especially for NRDC’s India team which is currently in New Delhi discussing climate change with Indian officials and civil society.   NRDC welcomes the draft and is encouraged to see India’s commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change and managing its greenhouse gas emissions. 

The draft mission is now open for comments and discussion, and will be finalized on June 11 after consultations take place across the country.

The mission opens with recognition that climate change will seriously affect and alter the distribution, type and quality of natural resources and livelihoods in India. It also articulates the importance of the linkages between “greening” and climate change adaptation and mitigation, enhancement of ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and storage, hydrological services and biodiversity. The Mission focuses on:

(1)    Enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems;

(2)    Adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems to the changing climate;

(3)    Adaptation of forest dependant local communities in the face of climatic variability.

Objectives of the Green Mission, aimed primarily at the forestry sector in India, include:

  • Doubling the area for afforestation /eco-restoration in the next 10 years, taking the total area to be afforested or eco-restored to 20 million ha.;
  • Increasing GHG removals by forests to 6.35% of India’s annual total GHG emissions by the year 2020; and
  • Enhancing the resilience of forests/ecosystems under the mission.

The mission, which envisions implementation through nine sub-missions, also lays out key principles that would underlie the implementation of the plan, including the creation of a monitoring framework; using vulnerability to climate change as a criteria to identify project areas; the provision of a strong decentralized role to local communities in project governance, through institutions like the Gram Sabha and Panchayat systems; an integrated cross-sectoral approach embracing publicly held forest and non-forest lands, as well a private forest lands; and an expansion of the scope of greening to include not just planting, but also habitat restoration and enhancement of habitat diversity.

The draft mission appears to be a good start to India’s efforts to preserve biodiversity, and to leverage ecosystem health and conservation to manage greenhouse gas emissions.  The consultation process for finalizing the mission is also important to including the views of civil society and stakeholders.  Moving forward, it will be extremely critical to have effective measurement and tracking of the plan, allowing implementing agencies to periodically calibrate their efforts, and also allowing stakeholders outside the government to hold the mission to its promise.

(Co-authored by Shravya Reddy and Anjali Jaiswal)


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