COLLABORATION

India looks to University of British Columbia to help tackle climate change

SOURCE: Sam Panthaky/AFP
The Indian government announced it will be collaborating with the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, in a bid to tackle mounting environmental degradation.

The Indian government announced last week it will be collaborating with the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, in a bid to tackle mounting environmental degradation and the worsening effects of climate change.

As a country of over 1.3 billion and an economy that has grown exponentially over the last two decades, India’s growth has placed a massive strain on its natural environment.

Recognising the importance of forests in combatting climate change, India set targets to ensure 33 percent of its geographical area remained under forest cover. But, despite the target being set decades ago, figures show the country is struggling to get above 22 percent.

The government is hoping UBC can help with that.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the university on Wednesday. The agreement covers the next 10 years and allows the pair to explore opportunities for collaborations in the field of forestry science.

“The MoU will help in exchange of students, researchers and faculty, developing research projects, livelihood opportunities and augment the income of the forest-based communities,” a ministry official said, as reported by Business Standard.

The MoU is also aimed at helping industry to continue its use of forest-based resources without causing further damage. Collaborative areas of research that have been discussed include wood sciences, forest resource management, and adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

India’s rapid economic development has led to dire deforestation which has devastated rural communities. According to government data, “14,000 sq kilometres of forests were cleared to accommodate 23,716 industrial projects across India over the last 30 years.”

Wood burning, fires on agricultural land, and industrial pollution have also contributed to India being home to nine of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world.

In the new partnership, UBC will work with organisations like the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Forest Survey of India (FSI), Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy and Directorate of Forest Education, Uttarakhand.

Conferences, workshops and seminars will be conducted throughout the collaboration to keep the partnership moving in the right direction.