Manipal University is organising a thematic seminar series on “Environmental Security in India” in November 2016, under the auspices of the Climate Diplomacy initiative supported by the German Federal Foreign Office. As a part of the ongoing efforts to build the University’s research and development base in environmental studies and climate change, it seeks to establish synergies between fundamental research in natural (physical) sciences, engineering, security and policy, especially in the environmental and climate policy domains.
As a part of the seminar series, a session on “Impact of Climate and Environmental Change on Human Health: Implications for India” will be held on November 11, in which not only the inter-relationships between environmental/climate change and communicable/non-communicable diseases, but also the co-benefits of tackling climate change for health (in terms of adaptation and mitigation) will be delved into. In another session on November 14 on “Role of Science and Technology in Addressing Environmental Security-Related Challenges in India”, the focus will be on brainstorming S&T solutions, such as rainwater harvesting, solar energy and bioprospecting among others in the Indian context. The speakers will be combining their theoretical and practical experience to present talks based on specific case studies. On November 15, the spotlight will shift to “India’s Perspectives on Environmental Security, Diplomacy and Governance” – a session in which the role of military diplomacy, global climate governance and the need for advance preparation in response to sea-level rise in India and South Asia will be looked into in greater detail.
As a prelude to the thematic seminar series, a special address on “India’s Climate and Energy Policy: Entry Points for International Cooperation” was delivered by Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways, Government of India on November 4, 2016 at Manipal University. In his speech, he opined that the Paris Agreement was a “progressive deal” despite many loopholes one could find in it, but the priority right now is to examine how we should take the best out of this deal. If the agreement had not been reached, the planet would have been finished. Tracing the history of climate change negotiations that have been affected by geopolitical, technological and geoeconomic developments, he observed that the Paris Agreement is not just an environmental agreement.
With specific reference to his portfolio – Railways – he affirmed that the ministry would play a key role in helping India meet the commitments set by India and the rest of the international community. Through electrification and promotion of solar and wind energy, the Indian Railways will be at the forefront of climate change mitigation. Mr. Prabhu added that Manipal University must establish a centre on climate change with global standards and brainstorm solutions to reduce energy and carbon intensity of the country without compromising economic activity. This centre must look into pertinent issues like water, agriculture and livelihoods, apart from mitigation.
The special address was followed by a talk by Prof. M. D. Nalapat, Vice-Chair, MARG and UNESCO Peace Chair at Manipal, who touched upon the regional water economy and hydro-politics. He insisted that India must stop the blame game with Pakistan and China, and ramp up its water supply in order to address water shortage. With respect to China’s alleged plans to build huge dams on rivers flowing to South Asia (including India) and Southeast Asia, he commented that China cannot afford to provoke India by choking water flow because the latter is its biggest market in most sectors, including infrastructure, energy and telecommunications.
*The Climate Diplomacy Initiative is a collaborative effort of the German Federal Foreign Office in partnership with adelphi.