INSIDE STORY: Future Proofing of an Indian City – Lessons from Madurai
Future proofing Indian cities is an innovative approach that engages multiple stakeholders in strengthening the blue-green infrastructure of cities in the context of urbanisation and climate change. Blue-green infrastructure includes both natural and manmade infrastructure covering the hydrological or ‘blue infrastructure’, and land-based natural habitats, ecosystems and urban green space or ‘green infrastructure’.
Atkins, a consultancy firm, has implemented the Future Proofing Cities project in partnership with the Development and Planning Unit at University College London (UCL) and DFID. In the city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, the DHAN Foundation is the delivery partner to support the Madurai City Corporation in future proofing local development plans.
This ‘Inside Story on Climate Compatible Development’ explores how the DHAN Foundation, city government and others have overcome challenges to ‘future proof’ Madurai. The story focuses especially on the Foundation’s efforts to engage citizens in preparing and delivering the action plan for blue-green infrastructure.
Key lessons from the project include:
- Strengthening the blue-green infrastructure – the intricately networked water systems together with land-based habitats and natural ecosystems – is an effective way of reducing the impacts of climate change in the city of Madurai, India. Madurai’s experience suggests that to deliver such an approach effectively, it is vital to engage multiple stakeholders to diagnose and prioritise issues and explore a range of actions.
- Intermediary organisations are essential for assisting government and communities in future proofing, because intermediaries can build platforms for stakeholder engagement at the provincial and urban local body levels. The Development of Humane Action (DHAN) Foundation has played such an intermediary role in Madurai.
- Future proofing calls for building a case to secure resources from the local to the global level, using available evidence and testimonies.
- It also calls for building the capacities of stakeholders – across government authorities, civil society organisations, the private sector and communities – to bring about effective, experience-based engagement, to leverage norms and rules, and to develop a common and shared mission. Such a multi-faceted approach also improves the chances that future proofing plans made together will be delivered and sustained.
Image: Meenakshi temple, Madurai, courtesy Jean Pierre Dalbera