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India’s Greatest Asset In Its Fight Against Climate Change

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Since 2011, the coal cess has been at the heart of India’s climate finance mobilization strategy. The recent reports suggest that National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), formed through coal cess accrual, had collected more than ₹54,000 crore until early this year. NCEF was created with a mandate to fund research and innovative projects in clean energy technology. It was symbolic of a financial promise to lead the nation to a low carbon development pathway. But the news of this fund being diverted for Goods & Services Tax (GST) compensation and other budgetary shortages has cast serious shadows on the government’s commitment. It is highly doubtful that the NCEF would survive or even be revived in the following years. The Government has not been successful in devising a consistent climate finance policy.

The current circumstances call for exploring newer avenues for resource mobilization and addressing the challenges in accessing these resources, especially private finance. Developed nations have committed to mobilizing $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020. This is a humongous task. It is impractical to reason that the governments of the developed world alone will be able to conjure up this much. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had taken cognizance of the enormity of this effort by highlighting the support of the private finance in its charter. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has designed a private sector facility to enhance private sector engagement. The Centre for Policy Research acknowledges private finance as the critical link to bridge the climate funding gap.

In India, the private finance route has considerable potential considering its mature financial sector and enterprising corporate and industrial sector. Until 2015, around $34 billion has been invested in India to mobilise private climate finance, predominantly in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transport sector. However, there are limiting barriers to scaling up that have deterred them from entering this space. The private sector in India faces significant policy, financial, technical and behavioural barriers.

One of the significant barriers is the lack of policy clarity and loose engagement with the private sector on climate change policy framework.  There has been increasing focus on renewable energy (RE) generation due to various incentives like fiscal incentives and generation based incentives. It has been further supported by faster and transparent approvals. This reflects a policy bias toward the renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) sectors. The government has not incentivized other climate-related fields with comparable enthusiasm. Also, another major factor is limited engagement with the private sector for designing climate change plans and strategies. The private sector has restricted decision-making power in the climate change policy process. The private stakeholdership in climate dialogues is limited to weighing in views and opinions. But more often than not, their engagement is impaired by the lack of technical understanding on the subject matter itself. As Michael Bloomberg said, “It’s critical that industries and investors understand the risks posed by climate change, but currently there is too little transparency about those risks.”  No one really understands the risks it poses or the impact it has.

The climate finance delivery cannot be complete without the engagement of Indian banks and financial institutions (FIs), as they form the primary conduit for climate investments. However, the financial landscape for climate-friendly investment is still in its nascent stages. The Indian banks have enough funds but they are apprehensive of foraying into these new sectors. Currently, the loans granted have lower tenure with high interest rates, which raises the cost of capital considerably. Also, there is a need to integrate climate priorities in the various steps of credit appraisal, risk assessments, project implementation and monitoring. The lack of a comprehensive project evaluation framework deters private finances. However, private banks like YES Bank have taken a proactive lead in including climate change and sustainability component in the project evaluation process. In 2015, it aimed to mobilize $5 billion from 2015 to 2020 for climate action through lending, investing and raising capital towards mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Interestingly, a bright spot in India’s private finance setting is CDM financing, which is a creative market mechanism to fund projects. India is the second largest recipient of CDM projects after China, with a total of 563 projects till 2014, representing almost 33% of CDM projects in Asia and 22% of CDM projects worldwide as per Ministry of Finance (MoF). CDM or clean development mechanism allows a country with emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol to implement emission reduction projects in developing countries. Implementing these projects helps developed nations to either offset emissions which were discharged above their stipulated quota or gain CERs (Certified Emission Reduction) that are tradeable in carbon markets. For the developing nations, this route provides funding for domestic projects. A win-win for both developing and developed countries under the Kyoto framework. In India’s case, it was found that CDM projects are concentrated in states that are more industrialised, such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. In contrast, poorer and less industrialised states generally implement fewer CDM projects.  India needs to diversify its CDM investments with an overarching policy structure in place for all the implementing states.

The private finance route can amply supplement public finance if there is a coherent and coordinated mechanism to set common priorities for climate action.  This calls for a more proactive engagement with the private sector. This will also lower behavioural attitude that assumes that climate-borne compliance is just another burden.

A version of this article was originally published here.

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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