Shloka Nath: ‘Climate Collaborative is about breaking silos, sharing responsibilities on climate change’

Kavitha Iyer

Shloka Nath, Executive Director of the India Climate Collaborative

Kavitha Iyer caught up with Shloka Nath, Executive Director of the India Climate Collaborative (ICC), to understand what the ICC aims to achieve and how.

What is the India Climate Collaborative that was launched last week?

The India Climate Collaborative is the first-ever collective response by industry leaders including Ratan N Tata, Anand Mahindra, Rohini Nilekani, Nadir Godrej, Aditi and Rishad Premji, Vidya Shah and Hemendra Kothari, among others, towards shared responsibilities for action and climate goals along with more than 10 top philanthropies. It will amplify local solutions through a collaborative platform for diverse voices and collective investments.

More than 40 organisations are already a part of the ICC, including the principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, TERI, ATREE (Bangalore), Center for Science and Environment (CSE), the Indian School of Business, Godrej Industries, HUL Foundation, Mahindra Rise, Wipro and others.

What is the purpose of the ICC?

One individual or organisation is not going to solve the problem, and it was clear from the outset that we have to create a platform where you can collaborate across sectors, government agencies, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society who must come together because the conversation right now is far too siloed.

How do we bridge these gaps? How do we make sure that knowledge sitting in research institutions in silos is reflected in policymaking and implementation? How do we make sure that knowledge is digestible?

Data has existed for years, how will we make sure data is reaching the right people and how do we make sure they are being told in a manner that it is making sense and is compelling? That’s a big part of the work that ICC seeks to do.

What activities will the ICC undertake immediately?

In 2019, we held a sustainable land use forum with over 100 participants from government, implementers, philanthropy practitioners, business and research institutions, to talk about land use from the perspective of climate change, and how funders could drive impact.

In the first quarter of this year, we have two similar events on air pollution and what Indian funders can do for it. Indian funders represent lower-income populations, they have been working on the ground, they have grassroots network and access. Bringing them into the conversation will reinforce that it is not just an urban middle-class issue.

Then in March, the ICC will host a two-day technical training for over a hundred bureaucrats from across departments of the state governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, to train them on climate change, on how they deal with it from a technical perspective but also why they should care, why it matters, how they can protect their communities. The idea is to train on-the-ground officials and district collectors who come across these problems every day.

Will your corporate members make commitments regarding emissions or water use at their facilities?

Many have already have started implementing various measures. The Mahindras have declared they want to be carbon neutral. The Godrejs are implementing work on water supply within their own companies. We hope to meet them where they are on their journeys and help them do what they are doing better and faster. Other players are keen on entering the space but lack the technical expertise. The biggest shortfall in India vis-a-vis climate change is one of talent. We hope to connect corporates with the right data, knowledge and technical expertise. Corporate India has the intention, and they are beginning to implement corrective steps. The ICC is the first big step in that direction as corporates realise and agree that it cannot be business-as-usual any more. Also, going forward, 75 per cent of the workforce in any large company will comprise millennials, who are definitely not okay with the business-as-usual approach. The way we are trying to frame it at the ICC is that this is an opportunity, that measures such as energy transitions are not punishments. We are thinking about how we can incentivise them, make sure the tools and resources needed are right there.