Boulder to partner with Indian city on climate response
28 Mar 2015
Source: Daily Camera Boulder News
By: Erica Meltzer
Boulder is a mid-sized city nestled against the mountains. Shimla, capital of the Himachal Pradesh state in India, is a mid-sized city nestled against the mountains.
Boulder faces increased threats from drought, flood and fire in the face of climate change. Shimla faces increased threats from drought, floods and changes in traditional snowfall patterns in the face of climate change.
Boulder is trying to integrate resiliency in the face of these threats across every city function. Shimla is trying to do the same.
The two cities have been paired by the International City/County Management Association's CityLinks Climate Adaptation Partnership Program, with Boulder to serve as a resource city for Shimla over the next year.
The two cities will identify specific short-term assistance that Boulder can provide to Shimla to improve the city's climate adaptation plans.
In an email, Komal Kantariya, Shimla's program manager for the climate adaptation initiative, said the city most lacks a robust analysis of the specific threats the city faces, as opposed to the broader regional risks.
"One of the key challenges we encounter is related to climate risk information at the city level which is science-based, systematic and robust," she wrote.
"We aim to gain from the expertise and experience of climate experts from UCCRN (Urban Climate Change Research Network) and urban planners and managers from the city of Boulder. The city of Boulder has been a pioneer in initiating innovative approaches of city-level climate adaptation planning and has successfully addressed many resilience challenges. Resilience planning in Shimla is at its infancy, and we hope to learn from the vast experience of Boulder in better understanding and addressing the resilience challenges."
Kantariya said the city has seen an increase in the average winter temperature of 2.4 degrees Celsius over the last 25 years, an increase in drought conditions that have implications for the local food and water supply and changes in snowfall patterns that could affect the tourist industry. Flash flooding is a constant risk, and in July 2013, a major landslide damaged buildings and infrastructure in the city.
Kantariya said there is broad political consensus in Shimla that the city needs to develop its infrastructure and organization to respond to these threats, and officials hope the partnership with Boulder can improve the city's capacity to do so.
Helping locally by assisting overseas
Boulder officials will travel to Shimla in May, and over the next nine to 12 months, there will be two more trips — one from a Shimla delegation to Boulder and one by Boulder city employees with appropriate technical expertise, such as mapping or utilities, to Shimla.
Travel and other program expenses will be paid by ICMA, while staff time will be paid by the respective cities. ICMA also will make experts from the Urban Climate Change Research Network available to the cities to help with the specific projects.
"We want to do our part to share our knowledge of climate change with other cities, and there probably is no better way to help ourselves than to help another community," said Carl Castillo, a policy adviser for Boulder.
Shimla, a hill station at 7,234 feet, was the summer capital of the British Raj. Known as the "Queen of Hills," it remains a popular tourist destination. Hospitality and tourism are major sources of employment there.
City officials told the ICMA they want to better understand their local climate risks and develop financial tools to implement an action plan.
"Two of the key adaptation challenges the city would like to address as part of the partnership is on city-level climate risk governance and mobilizing adequate finance to implement the adaptation actions," they wrote.
"We are interested to learn from institutional innovations which are effective in facilitating city-level adaptation strategies involving a cross-section of actors and planning departments. Shimla city has identified a series of climate adaptation needs and opportunities through the City Disaster Management Plan and the City Resilience Strategy. But the city administration encounters constant challenge in mainstreaming the adaptation strategies as part of the larger city development plans and ensuring continuous engagement of other sectoral bodies and departments."
The application describes a well-established network of Resident Welfare Associations that could be mobilized to work on risk assessment and preparedness, but so far, the city has not had the technical or financial capacity to pursue that initiative.
In its own application, Boulder cited its experience with drought, flood and fire and the extensive local networks of scientists and engineers who could share their knowledge with a partner city.
Boulder is also participating in the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities project and has hired a chief resiliency officer to look more systematically at how to prepare the city for future natural disasters and other challenges.
Erica Meltzer: 303-473-1355, email@example.com or twitter.com/meltzere