The climate crisis is not an abstract challenge for the future. Its impacts on the world are visibly and starkly clear, and already present. With its rich natural resources, large population at risk, and significant potential for future growth, India must find a way to address the challenges of climate change without sacrificing its human development goals.
There is no single solution or silver bullet. We hope to focus on climate change interconnections with sustainability and social justice to forge more effective responses to the climate emergency.
Our work includes research, education and practical applications. We work in diverse ecosystems, locations and geographies across India. Our major focus is on cities which face the most difficult challenges but also give us opportunities for intervention.
100 Cities Mapping Project
India is on the fast track to urbanisation. Cities and their buildings are expanding into green spaces, wetlands, river, lakes, grasslands and forests in India. This has caused environmental problems, and those problems that existed have become worse, from air pollution to biodiversity loss and climate change. We need much better information on the growth of Indian cities. Satellite remote sensing provides a useful way to get such information. We use Google Earth Engine to develop semi-automated approaches to map the growth of India’s 100 largest cities over a period of 15 years, examining the impact of urban growth on the loss of water bodies, tree cover and open areas.
Trees in Indian cities
Trees are one of the first casualties of development in Indian cities. They are cut down for flyovers, underpasses, high speed roads, metros, building construction, and to make way for advertisement boards. Trees are of great importance as commons. They provide shade and sukoon for street vendors. They reduce air pollution and heat island effects. They help new migrants forge connections to cities through an imaginative process of environmental placemaking. Our research has been used in submissions to Indian courts by planners and policy makers, and has helped inform urban environmental movements against tree felling.
A major challenge for climate planning is the lack of downscaled, location-specific, near-time climate forecasts that can help local area planners, media and civil society understand the challenges of climate planning. We are working to develop district-level climate forecasts for near-future and medium-future time periods, which can help feed into local policies for climate adaptation and resilience.
Where have all our gunda thopes gone?
India is rapidly urbanising, but our cities are facing an environmental crisis. Whenever there is any development, for building a road, a flyover or a metro, the first casualties are trees. This story is our attempt to communicate the work we have done on gunda…