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FEATURE: Seeking out climate finance for resilient Indian cities

Srinivas Krishnaswamy reports on project activities for the CDKN supported project Finding the Finance: Climate Compatible development in Asian cities. Srinivas Krishnaswamy, is the Chief Executive Officer of Vasudha Foundation, a non-profit organisation that delivers projects on clean energy, energy access and climate policy.

Indian cities face various development challenges – and one emerging challenge is to ensure that our cities are “climate resilient” without sacrificing the aspirations of the average Indian to maintain the right to a “decent standard of living”.

With this in mind, Vasudha Foundation in partnership with GermanWatch and with support from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has embarked on a project that aims to help two Indian cities develop  climate resilient plans.  These plans will not only make the cities climate resilient, but also meet the aspiration of their citizens and most importantly, raise the resources required to implement the plans in earnest.

The two cities identified for this project are Puri and Gurgaon, both with diverse culture, heritage, topography, economic profile and priorities. Gurgaon, a territory of the National Capital Region, aspires to be the “new age city” – being home to over a few dozen Fortune 500 companies and with close proximity to India’s largest international airport, the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.  It is also part of a “once” very pristine green zone, the “Aravalli Range”.  Puri, an area that has historically seen sea ravages such as cyclones and flooding, boasts an agrarian, fisheries and tourism driven economy, and is home to a large temple, attracting millions of Indian tourists, both pilgrims and beach lovers.

What has been common in both the cities is the enthusiasm of various stakeholders, be it the representatives from the government, residents,  industries or the corporate sector to transform their districts into climate resilient cities.

Being very diverse districts, the problems facing them from a climate perspective, barring a few, are also very different,  the priorities different, and so the solutions, albeit with some common elements.

While the priorities for Puri are more adaptation and disaster management in nature, Gurgaon presents a typical case of implementing stringent mitigation measures.  Notwithstanding what measures are taken in each city, the end result would be the same –  a climate resilient Gurgaon and a climate resilient Puri.

Various rounds of interesting discussions, dialogues and workshop with stakeholders have resulted in intentions developed to delve deep into the issue and come up with action plans that prioritise the  activities required in each of the districts for ‘climate proofed’ development. These discussions also explored possible ways to raise the resources to meet the financial and other requirements needed to implement those priortised programmes.

A strong commonality that emerged amongst the participants, ranging from the “common person” to the “ruling class” was the interest in domestic versus international finance.  Participants in both cities agreed that with holistic planning and integrated solutions, a great amount of resources could be made available domestically to achieve their respective climate resilient plans without seeking out “foreign funds”.  They were however quick to point out that foreign funds could also go a long way to add  “icing on the cake for various plans and programmes”, recognising the much needed added value of international finance.


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