Environment & Biodiversity

Panchayats’ role in combating climate change

India’s rural local authorities are quietly lending their weight to ensure the global goal of carbon neutrality, as envisioned at the UN conference on climate change, in the age of rapid technology breakthroughs and digital transformation.

The third tier of government, Panchayati raj institutions, which are closest to the people, must be involved if India is to meet the set of objectives outlined in the “Panchamrit” resolution of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021.

Climate-related calamities have increased significantly during the last few decades. The majority of people in India work in agriculture and reside in rural areas. 

Significant impact on rural areas:

  • The recent increase in rainfall, temperature, and other weather variations has had a negative impact on the livelihood and general well-being of millions of rural households.
  • The 2008 National Action Strategy on Climate Change for India specifies a number of key areas for coordinated intervention at the national and State levels. PRI is omitted from this plan. However, if Panchayati raj institutions had been given a bigger role, the outcomes would have been better.
  • Climate change activities must be decentralised: Panchayats can play a significant and frontline role in coordinating efficient responses to climate hazards, facilitating adaptation, and creating climate-change resilient communities through the ongoing decentralisation process that secures people’s participation.
  • In addition, because Panchayati Raj Institutions are closest to the people, it is essential to involve them in achieving the objectives outlined in the “Panchamrit” resolution of the COP26, Glasgow 2021.
  • A local action plan is crucial for the enforcement and application of climate policies.

Carbon Neutrality Projects across India

  • It is also crucial to involve Panchayati Raj Institutions in accomplishing the goals stated in the “Panchamrit” resolution of the COP26, Glasgow 2021, as they are closest to the people.
  • For the implementation and enforcement of climate legislation, a local action plan is essential.

Palli gram panchayat: Case Study

  • In Jammu and Kashmir, the Palli gramme panchayat implemented a people-centric strategy with targeted regional activities.
  • A climate-resilient plan was created by the panchayat, educating the villagers on ways to mitigate climate change, such as cutting back on energy use, utilising solar energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels, doing away with plastics, and encouraging water conservation and plantation.
  • For the panchayat’s nearly 340 households, a 500KW solar plant was installed. Also created was a Gram Panchayat Development Plan for 2022–2023.

The ‘clean and green village’ theme:

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be localised thematically, according to the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
  • In this context, “Clean and Green Village” is the fifth theme. Biodiversity protection, resource management, waste management, and afforestation are all included in the scope of this theme.
  • According to the most recent statistics, “Clean & Green Village” has been prioritised by roughly 1,09,135 gramme panchayats for the years 2022–2023.
  • The comprehensive Panchayat Development Plan, which was created by all panchayats, is also a first step in tackling the myriad environmental issues that Indian villages are facing.

Road Ahead

Because municipal governments are founded on the idea of public engagement, they play a crucial role in addressing the issue of climate change. India’s rural local governments are quietly making contributions to achieve carbon neutrality; it is important to record, publicize, encourage, and scale up these initiatives nationwide.

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