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Nature-based solutions key to climate issues: Study

Snowfall at Liyai Khunou on Tuesday morning

With predicted changes in rainfall pattern and erratic weather conditions in the Northeast region, obviously influenced by changes in micro climatic regime as in the Himalayas, it is not too late for the Government to come up with immediate and long term strategic action plans to cope with the challenges ahead.

By Salam Rajesh


The Earth’s climate is changing; the global average temperature is estimated to already be about 1.1 °C above pre-industrial levels. Further warming is projected to occur in the coming decades, and climate-induced impacts may exceed the capacity of society to cope and adaptive in a 1.5 °C or 2 °C world.

‘Therefore, urgent actions should be taken to address climate change and avoid irreversible environmental damages’, reads the stark message that Bao-Jie He, Ayyoob Sharifi, Chi Feng, and Jun Yang (Editors) spells out in the publication Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability-Volume 2 (MDPI, 2021).

Climate change is interrelated with many other challenges such as urbanization, population increase and economic growth. The framework (UN’s 17 SDG goals) prioritizes the transformation of the traditional methods of environmental modifications in various fields, including transportation, industry, building, energy generation, agriculture, land use and forestry, towards sustainable ones to limit greenhouse gas emissions, writes Bao-Jie et al.

The editors broadly emphasizes that ‘the framework also highlights the significance of sustainable environmental planning and design for adaptation in order to reduce climate-induced threats and risks’.

Outlining a future roadmap to address climate issues, the editors are of the opinion that, “Sustainable urban–rural planning and design deals with questions of climate change and regional economic development, territorial spatial planning and carbon neutrality, urban overheating mitigation and adaptation, water-sensitive urban design, smart development for urban habitats, sustainable land use and planning, low-carbon cities and communities, wind-sensitive urban planning and design, nature-based solutions, urban morphology and environmental performance in addition to innovative technologies, models, methods and tools for spatial planning”.

Tatiana Andrikopoulou et al in their article ‘A Framework to Evaluate the SDG Contribution of Fluvial Nature-Based Solutions’ writes that, “Nature-based solutions (NBSs) can help in addressing many of the SDGs as established in the UN 2030 Agenda. The inclusion of natural elements could create manifold benefits for all the three pillars – People, Planet, and Prosperity which reflect the three sustainability principles (society, environment, and economy) and are adopted by the UN 2030 Agenda”.

The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations seek to find solutions to the myriad issues plaguing the world community, additionally burdened by the impact of perceived changes in climatic conditions globally. Of the 17 SDG goals targeted by the UN, dealing with the climate issues in rhyme with removing poverty and hunger induced largely by changing climatic conditions features prominently.

In Manipur, unlike in the past years, the beginning of the year 2022 has seen slight deviation from the normal course of the seasonal year. A slight shower is, of course, expected in early January as a usual opening to the seasonal start of the agrarian year. Whereas, this year the rainfall in January and February months has been intensive and certainly unprecedented. To top it, recurrent snowfall lashed the northern highlands, as similarly as in many parts of Nagaland.

Snowfall does occur in the higher altitudes of Manipur, sometimes. It is not an annual occurrence, but depends on the amount of rainfall pouring down in January. So, many a times, there is no snowfall but deep frost and frozen ice. The occurrence this year can be discussed as a process that perhaps indicates extremity in weather conditions, likely to become an annual occurrence with changing climatic conditions globally.

Tatiana et al shares common thoughts on this, stating that, “Rapid development combined with the expansion of infrastructure, agricultural intensification, transport, and other linked socioeconomic systems has increased society’s vulnerability to environmental disasters. In this context, the UN 2030 Agenda has provided international and national governments with goals, targets, and indicators to facilitate an integrated approach focusing on economic, environmental, and social improvements simultaneously”.

Touching upon this subjective matter, Anthony Charles et al in their scientific paper Community science: A typology and its implications for governance of social-ecological systems published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Policy’ (2020) opines that, “There is an increasing recognition globally of the role to be played by community science – scientific research and monitoring driven and controlled by local communities, and characterized by place-based knowledge, social learning, collective action and empowerment. In particular, community science can support social-ecological system transformation, and help in achieving better ‘fit’ between ecological systems and governance, at local and higher levels of decision making”.

This statement understandably brings out the current discussions at the United Nations level where specific focus is being given to the proactive role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in meaningful and successful conservation of forests, wetlands and other natural landscapes.

The UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) draws the global community’s expressed attention on the need to focus on ecosystem restoration as priority in meeting targets to achieve climate mitigation and adaptation strategies by the year 2030.

Current global deliberations on climate issues have stated that unless there is commitment from all sectors, it is going to be a tough fight to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise by the year 2030. The fear is that global temperature rise of 1.5 to 2 degree Celsius by the year 2050 could influence drastic changes to the current climate scenario, for the worst.

Impacts of perceived climate change in the region has not been seriously discussed back home, where it is quite evident that the Government is yet to fully mobilize all resources to chalk out a roadmap to address the issue. The State’s Directorate of Environment and Climate Change as nodal agency has strived to push through with the agenda but evidently there has been lukewarm response from many of the associated departments.

A simple case study to understand as to why there is sudden surge in snowfall in the northern uplands of Manipur can be the eye opener for many other associated impacts, even though at low scale presently, but which could increase in intensity with each passing year.

With predicted changes in rainfall pattern and erratic weather conditions in the Northeast region, obviously influenced by changes in micro climatic regime as in the Himalayas, it is not too late for the Government to come up with immediate and long term strategic action plans to cope with the challenges ahead.

(The writer is a media professional working on environmental issues. He can be reached at [email protected])

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