Mainstreaming Adaptation in Action: Case Studies from Two States in India

Case Summary: 

India will face considerable and varied climate change impacts in the coming decades. The country has a large population with high poverty and low adaptive capacity, heavy dependence on climate-sensitive sectors, and is likely to face negative climate change impacts. These factors make adaptation critical. Integrating, or mainstreaming, adaptation into development plans, programs, and projects is an important strategy to ensure that adaptation can match the scale and urgency of the climate change problem. In India, states are key players on adaptation, and several vulnerable sectors are the responsibility of the state. Some sectors in a few states have begun mainstreaming adaptation into their sectoral programs and projects. This paper highlights two case studies of adaptation being integrated into sectoral development programs and projects, in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Ideally, the findings from analyzing these case studies will accelerate and scale-up mainstreaming efforts in India.

Integrating adaptation into sectoral programs, policies, and projects is good practice because it is an effective way to address the magnitude of the climate change challenge. It enables communities and sectors to adapt rapidly, at scale, in a way that is sustainable over time. Mainstreaming adaptation has several benefits. It makes development more effective because it accounts for current and future risks posed by climate change (FAO 2009); it reduces potential policy conflicts between adaptation and development that may arise if they are approached separately (Lebel et al. 2012; Alhassan and Hadwen 2017); it can be more efficient than doing adaptation and development separately by making use of existing institutional structures and processes (IIED 2008; Lebel et al. 2012); and it can leverage larger financial flows for adaptation than those available for stand-alone adaptation (Lebel et al. 2012).

Key findings from the case study include:

  • Programmatic mainstreaming may be more financially sustainable than project-specific mainstreaming
  • Funding streams can be used to intentionally support mainstreaming; having supportive policy frameworks in place can support mainstreaming
  • Both political and administrative leaders play important and complementary roles in enabling mainstreaming
  • Building capacity and improving institutional memory are key elements of mainstreaming
  • Persistent communication and coordination among sectors is critical for managing climate risks.
South Asia
Action Area 
Planning and Implementation Activity 
Developing Strategies and Plans, Governance and Stakeholder Engagement, Sub-national Action and Integration, Long-Term Strategies
Sectors and Themes 
Barriers overcome 
Capacity, Information, Institutional, Political
World Resources Institute
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