Economics of India’s Adaptation and Resilience Pathways – India


Santosh Kumar [1] Sapna Dubey [2] and Sanjay Srivastava [3]

In 2021, India witnessed several intense cascading risk scenarios. Amid the Delta variant of COVID-19 which triggered the second wave, India faced five cyclonic storms – Cyclone Tauktae, Yaas, Gulaab, Shaheen and Jawad in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea . Erratic monsoons left a trail of devastating major floods across Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. As 2021 unveiled the challenges of a riskier world, it is also an opportunity to chart India’s pathways to adaptation and resilience.

India’s National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) Benchmark Report Released November 2021 [4] defines poverty as the deprivation of the crucial and fundamental parameters of health, education and standard of living. The states with the highest multidimensional poor population are Bihar, followed by Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, the third edition of the SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020–21: Partnerships in the Decade of Action was released by NITI Aayog in June 2021. This SDG Index developed in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) tracks the progress of all States and UTs on 115 indicators for 16 of the 17 SDGs. In 2021, the lowest ranked states were Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Is climate risk a key vulnerability factor?

In April 2021, a report on the National Level Detailed Climate Vulnerability Assessment of States and Districts of India was released by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India in partnership with the Swiss Cooperation in development. The report uses a common framework for vulnerability assessment based on the definition provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 5th Assessment Report. Based on their current climate risk and key vulnerability factors, the report identifies the most vulnerable states and districts in India. The most vulnerable states are Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal. It also captures district-level vulnerabilities and identifies that in Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, over 60% of districts are in the highly vulnerable category.

The results of the aforementioned reports show that the most climate-vulnerable states are also multidimensionally poor and appear at the bottom of the pyramid of the SDG matrix. Therefore, risk management is of key importance in building India’s resilient future.

Cost of Climate Risk and Adaptation in India

The Risk and Resilience Portal [5] from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) estimates the Annualized Average Loss (AAL) for India, which includes both slow onset (drought), extreme events and biohazards at $93 billion (3.35% of India’s GDP) . Drought contributes over 70% of India’s risk landscape, followed by floods, cyclones and earthquakes/tsunamis. The AAL rises to $132 billion (4.75% of India’s GDP) and $224 billion (8.84% of India’s GDP) under the moderate and worst-case climate change scenarios of representative concentrations 4.5 and 8.5.

The portal also estimates the total climate adaptation costs for cascading hazards in India (natural and biological) under an extreme climate change scenario at $43.3 billion (1.6% of India’s GDP). India). [6] . It is evident that a USD 1 investment in adaptation contributes to a USD 5.5 reduction in AAL.

Adaptation priorities and key policy actions

Adaptation priorities arising from India’s unique risk landscape include resilience of new infrastructure, strengthening of early warning systems, resilience of water resources management and improved agricultural production of land. drylands, followed by the protection of mangroves on the east and west coasts of India. While this helps prioritize adaptation actions and investments at the national level, more granular analysis and risk profiles can help target appropriate adaptation actions locally. In this regard, the success of two ongoing national programs is particularly significant.

First, the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) with an annual budget of $13 billion (2020) substantially addresses all adaptation priorities. 65% of the budget allocated to MNREGA is spent on natural resource management, water management, drought protection, construction of gray and green infrastructure, including nature-based solutions. It helps build community resilience through natural resource management, inclusion and livelihood security for the poor and marginalized. India’s efforts to strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems continue to address the unmet needs of the most vulnerable in climate hazard hotspots.

Second, India has launched an ambitious $1.3 trillion plan to develop an integrated infrastructure for the next 25 years. Popularly known as Prime Minister Gati Shakti (the power of speed), it is basically about promoting next generation infrastructure. Assuming the cost of resilience is between 5 and 10% of the cost of building infrastructure, this will be a significant investment in India’s resilient future. India’s leadership in the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) is an effort that addresses the multifaceted issues posed by the vulnerability of infrastructure systems globally.

Policy coherence

The National Disaster Management Policy (2009) and the National Disaster Management Plan (2016) focus on disaster resilience and incorporate the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as well as the SDGs. The 2016 National Disaster Management Plan was revised in 2019 to incorporate a comprehensive action plan on “biological and public health emergencies”. The plan then outlines action points on biological and public health emergencies at the national and subnational (state) levels. In line with the recommendations of the report of the XV Finance Commission, India has devoted resources to the whole cycle of disaster mitigation, preparedness, relief and rescue, as well as recovery and reconstruction.

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and the National Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) place particular emphasis on climate adaptation programs. Policy coherence between climate change action plans and the national disaster management plan that strengthen India’s position in the voluntary national review of SDG progress, nationally determined contributions in the framework of the Paris agreement on climate change and the goals of the Sendai framework is a key driver for India. pathways of adaptation and resilience in a more risky world.

[1] Professor, National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home, Government of India, New Delhi

[2] Consultant, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok

[3] Chief, Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok

[4] Published by NITI Aayog in partnership with Oxford University’s Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

[5] ESCAP Risk and Resilience Portal, Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network []

[6] ESCAP Risk and Resilience Portal, Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network []


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