Climate Change Research and Practice at IIHS
Climate change is one of the defining existential and development challenges of our time. India in general, and Indian cities and settlements in particular are amongst the most vulnerable to climate impacts with hundreds of millions of people at risk.

IIHS is building cutting-edge scientific, policy and implementation capacity to address climate challenges in India, South Asia and across the globe, building on seminal research and policy engagement by its faculty.

A team of climate and risk practitioners and researchers from a range of fields: social development, climate modelling, risk and disaster management, energy studies, water resource management, urban systems and development studies is coming together at IIHS, as part of its School of Environment & Sustainability. The team works on research, supporting policy and action around adaption and mitigation of climate change impacts, via a cross-sectoral, multi-scalar approach that spans the rural-urban continuum, is closely linked to building resilient systems and sustainable development.

Climate changeinitiatives at IIHS span research, policy support and advocacy, practice and training; often in conjunction with other IIHS thematic research areas. IIHS projects in this area span partnerships with key UN and international agencies, include:

  • IPCC Assessment Report 5 (AR 5) Coordinating Lead Authorship of Urban Areas (Chapter 8) of the Working Group II (Adaptation) Report; the Technical Summary and the Summary for Policymakers Reports.
  • UNESCO: Assessment of Social Science Impact of Climate change research in South Asia.
  • UNDP: Policy Paper on Planning for Urban Resilience, integrating climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and human development
  • CDKN-Atkins-UCL: Diagnostic study on future challenges related to climate and energy consumption in Bangalore.
  • Rockefeller Foundation-IIHS Policy support partnership: This partnership seeked to leverage the potential for urban transformation in India by exploring inadequately analysed cross-sectoral themes and areas of potential policy and programme interventions.
  • UNDP: Course on Building Resilience through Integrated Development Practice among government officials at city and state levels. Over 68 policymakers and practitioners from 9 States have been trained.
  • IDRC-DFID: IIHS leads one of the largest Climate adaptation research programmes in South-Asia: the 5-year, $3 million ASSAR research programme which a part of the CARIAA international climate adaptation research programme.

The CARIAA|ASSAR scope includes year-long Regional Diagnostic Studies (RDS) across three Indian states and multiple transects (Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, the Bhavani basin region in Tamil Nadu and Bangalore region in Karnataka); a Regional Research Programme (RRP) which encompasses development of climate scenarios, qualitative and quantitative field-based research, and formulation of scalable adaptation strategies in conjunction with government stakeholders and local communities.


CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research in Africa and Asia) aims to help build the resilience of poor people to climate change by supporting a network of consortia to conduct high-calibre research and policy engagement in hot spots in Africa and Asia. CARIAA is a 7-year, $70 million, IDRC and DFID funded international climate change research programme. It focuses on three climate change hot spots: semi-arid regions, deltas, and glacier and snow-fed river basins that straddle countries and regions in Africa and Asia. Each hot spot is home to tens of millions of poor people whose livelihoods are highly vulnerable to climate change. Every country and region is unique, but the changes underway have comparable biophysical and social implications within each hot spot.

CARIAA supports four consortia working in these three hot spots:

  1. ASSAR – Semi-arid regions
  2. PRISE – Semi-arid regions
  3. DECCMA – Deltas
  4. HI-AWARE – Glacier and snow-fed river basins

Each of the four consortia that CARIAA supports brings together five lead institutions supported by a number of  regional institutions with a range of regional, scientific and socio-economic development expertise to explore the physical, social, economic and political dimensions of climate change vulnerability and adaptation. This approach enables greater South-South sharing of knowledge and experience, and encourages innovation that will strengthen adaptation and resilience among the poor.

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The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) research programme aims to enhance the capacity of people in semi-arid regions to adapt to climate change. Over the next five years, the international multidisciplinary ASSAR team will be working intensively in 10 countries in Africa and Asia through four regional research programmes spread across Eastern, Western and Southern Africa; and South Asia. The four regional teams will focus their research and policy work on:

  • Determining likely climate change impacts
  • Better understanding vulnerability, the potential magnitude of future Climate impacts, and barriers and enablers to adaptation in these regions
  • Assessing the best ways to enable widespread and transformative adaptation under changing climates

The ASSAR consortium is a partnership between University of Cape Town (South Africa), IIHS (India), University of East Anglia (UK), START (US) and Oxfam GB (UK).

IIHS leads the ASSAR programme in South Asia in partnership with ATREE, WOTR and IITM.


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