Climate Change Governance

In an earlier editorial, we had mentioned governance as one of the key factor that needs to be given due importance in order to address climate change and the myriad of issue and problem that come with it. A recent conclave on Climate Change Leadership in North East India under the theme “The need for new paradigms” has also raised this question about governance and how this will be an enabling factor. For this to happen, it is undoubtedly clear that we need to improve the functioning of our government system and also strengthen the ‘institutional mechanisms’. ‘Mainstreaming the issue of climate change across the various government departments’ is also some of the suggestions doing the rounds. All this will also need a greater understanding of the whole gamut of issues related to climate change besides the right kind of leadership will be required to bring about policy initiatives and other changes down to the grass root level. It is heartening to note that Gujarat has become the first State in India and even maybe Asia to initiate the first of its kind Climate Change Department. If other CMs can emulate what Narendra Modi has done, we can hope to see faster progress in mainstreaming environmental issues in the development process. Since India is a growing economy the key to its future success will depend largely on how we get the right balance between environmental concerns and development needs.
In Nagaland as well, we need to get our government in the right design and mode so as to become a model of sustainable development. The present government has created a separate department for New and Renewable energy in the year 2009. This is a positive step no doubt. However, the government will also do well if it can restructure some of the departments so that there is no overlapping of work and also to fix accountability. For instance, the scope and powers of the department dealing with Forest & Environment can be increased to allow it to tackle emerging problems and issues related to protection of our ecology and natural resources. We need certain amount of innovation like how Chief Minister Narendra Modi has initiated the first of its kind Climate Change Department in Gujarat. Our existing Forest & Environment Department can look into all related subjects dealing with climate change including conservation of water, soil and natural resources. As some of the existing departments already look redundant, they can be coalesced as part of a more dynamic up to date government restructuring. This is something to ponder upon for the Nagaland government. It is reported that a committee is already looking into the problem of overlapping and duplication of projects by various departments.
Our government machinery needs to be better prepared to meet the future challenges. On policy and the question of leadership, much more still needs to be done. Good policies can be brought out but it will also require the political will to adhere or implement the policies and laws. We need to applaud the leadership role of former Union Minister for Environment & Forest Jairam Ramesh who remained steadfast in implementing the green laws despite political pressure or intensive lobbying by corporate and other vested interest groups. Clearly Nagaland and its people, civil society, government and the political leaders’ needs to get sensitized on this all important subject of climate change and how we need to collectively respond. To begin with we need to get our policy, governance and leadership going to address climate change.