Climate Change Governance & Mindset Change

An “inception workshop on state plan on climate change (SAPCC)” was conducted on February 18 at administrative training institute (ATI) Kohima with several important people in attendance including Forest Minister and top officials of the Nagaland government. According to reports, the deliberation of the workshop will be taken forward towards preparing a State level action plan to combat climate change. Since it has now become mandatory to have a SAPCC for each State, Nagaland will also have to come out with its own policy keeping in tune with the global reality as also the local factors. The process for such as policy should be from the bottoms up. It has to have the mandate and due consultation of the people at the grass root level. Then the other important goal to attain is how to balance between development and environment needs. In a State like Nagaland where we believe in heavy doses of development and the wanton destruction of our habitat for building our projects etc. it is time to step back and rework our policy goals in a manner that will allow us to achieve this balance of sustainable development. The other thing that we need to clarify is whenever we talk of climate change the impression is that we are dealing only with rivers, forests, agriculture etc. It is therefore important to also create greater awareness among the stakeholders. For instance it is reported that the action plan would encompass 8 missions, including energy, non-renewable energy, water, housing, strategic knowledge, sustaining the Himalayan eco-system and sustainable agriculture. Many within the government setup leave alone the general public are not aware of what is involved when we talk about climate change. We need to constantly educate ourselves so that we as a State and society can do the right thing.
The inception workshop for preparation of state action plan on climate change was therefore a much needed exercise to get ourselves acclimatized. One of the most important and basic point that was made during the workshop was the urge of the Forest Minister on the need for all departments to incorporate climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in their planning process, both short term and long term. At present this is not happening because our government is still not climate change savvy. At least it is a good beginning that some of our politicians are now speaking about things like ‘sustainable development’. In fact the Forest Minister and his department are the right people to take over leadership to tackle climate change and other environment issues that we are faced with. Our Forest Minister should take the lead in changing the mindset of his other Ministerial colleagues especially those heading departments that are centered on development. As rightly pointed out by the Forest Minister, environment concerns has to be incorporated in the planning process of all government departments. Hopefully such sane words from one of our Minister will have a positive bearing on the others including our Chief Minister who should support the new found initiative of the Forest Department and the Minister. As the Additional Chief Secretary & Development Commissioner Alemtemshi Jamir, IAS, speaking on ‘Climate Change and Nagaland - Planning for the Future’, highlighted two aspects - integration of departments and devolution (decentralization) of governance and thinking process. He said that strategies of climate change adaptation and mitigation are related with strategies of how governance system should also change. Rightly so, mindset change along with a new thinking of our governments should be the first step.