At a time when the global business community in Davos is debating how to deal with climate-change risks, top Indian philanthropists have launched India Climate Collaborative (ICC), aimed at connecting and strengthening the Indian climate community.
This marks the first ever collective response by Indian industry leaders, such as Ratan N Tata, Anand Mahindra, Rohini Nilekani, Nadir Godrej, Aditi and Rishad Premji, Vidya Shah, and Hemendra Kothari, for an effective action “towards a shared climate goal”.
Among ICC’s tasks would be to build a compelling, India-focused climate narrative and drive solutions that help people and nature thrive, said a statement from the institution.
“Our collective leadership through the ICC will indicate to the world that Indian philanthropy is ready to be a leader in climate action,” Tata, chairman, Tata Trusts, was quoted in the statement.
ICC seeks to build a platform for diverse voices, innovative solutions, and collective investments.
Shloka Nath, who leads the sustainability portfolio at Tata Trusts, has been appointed executive director of ICC. Nath said: “We have a chance to clean up the air, steward our water supply, as well as bring clean jobs of the future to India if we act together and invest in the policies, people, and organisations that promote climate-friendly changes we all need to make. Our response to the climate crisis is going to be a uniquely Indian story.”
Nath told Business Standard ICC would not be a fund but a TED-like (an American media organisation that posts online discussions) platform that would curate opportunities for those who were investing in climate-change initiatives or wanted to invest in them.
“It will connect them to a wider ecosystem of government agencies, academic institutions, private sector and others. Currently, they all work in silos,” she said. The intention is that companies are in a position to future-proof their plans.
“Scientific research tells us that the next decade will be critical in dealing with the global climate crisis,” said Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra group.
“It is clear that the world cannot continue to pursue a business-as-usual approach and nobody can solve the problem on their own. Business, government, and philanthropy must collaborate within and among themselves to drive results quickly and at scale. India Climate Collaborative can make this happen.”
ICC as a concept emerged in 2018, after which work on drawing up a plan started. Now, it has more than 45 members. These include the principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the Ashoka Trust for Research on Ecology & Environment (ATREE), the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), the Council on Environment, Energy & Water (CEEW), the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the Mahindra group, Wipro, Godrej Industries, and the HUL Foundation.
To begin with, it will launch a programme on air pollution. There will initiatives on the themes of water and land, to cover issues relevant to the Indian climate crisis and to ICC’s members.
It will also conduct a technical training on climate change for officials of the government of Rajasthan, and launch research on how philanthropy can help build climate-resilient communities.
In her statement, Nilekani said: “Climate change seems to be already upon us. In India, we need to seriously prepare ourselves for all the innovation and the multidimensional action that will be required to continue on our development trajectory in this new environment. We must ensure the economy grows in a way that creates the jobs of the future and protects our natural ecosystems. Climate action is not an either/or.”
According to ICC, India ranked highest in climate-triggered deaths in 2018 and is the fifth-most vulnerable of 181 countries to the impacts of climate change. Approximately 42 per cent of India’s land area faced drought in April last year, worsening the farm crisis. Since 1980, nearly 60,000 suicides in India are attributed to warming temperatures, accounting for almost 7 per cent of the national upward trend in suicide rates. There has been a 150 per cent rise in air pollution-related deaths over the past 20 years and in 2017 alone, India saw 1.2 million deaths due to air pollution. India suffered an economic loss of $37 billion due to climate change in 2018. Of this losses due to floods amounted to $2.8 billion.