Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Institutional dynamics of adaptation to climate change and urbanization: analysis of rain-fed agricultural-urban lake systems in Bangalore, India
PI: Harini Nagendra, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
U.S. Partner: Tom Evans, Indiana University
Project Dates: May 2012 - April 2015
Adaptation to climate change poses a substantial challenge in the often data-poor contexts of the developing world. This is especially so for fresh water resources, which will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring the sustainability of agricultural-urban systems. This project examines how institutions can facilitate adaptation to climate change and urbanization in the highly vulnerable, rain-fed, semi-arid agricultural-urban system of Bangalore. Major focus areas of concern to USAID are directly addressed, including climate change adaptation, coping strategies for water scarcity, and urbanization challenges.
The study area examines a network of 65 lakes in southeastern Bangalore. Differences between lakes within and outside the city boundary provide useful contrasts to address the core questions. While both lake subsets have a similar exposure to climate change, the lakes outside the city exhibit greater institutional nestedness compared to lakes within the city, while the city municipal institutions have greater technical and financial resources. The project addresses three core research questions: (1) the historical evolution of institutional regimes of water allocation to varying climate and precipitation, (2) the current role of institutional nestedness in enabling adaptation to climate change, and (3) future assessments of the ability of user groups to respond to potential climate change. An innovative interdisciplinary approach will be employed, integrating data on changes in climate and precipitation, historical datasets on land cover and common property resources, current land cover from high resolution satellites change, ecological and environmental analyses of lake condition, archival and policy research, interviews with individuals, communities and government institutions, and qualitative scenario building. The project will thus explore the potential for local institutions and collective action to interface with formal, prescriptive yet technically and financially powerful government institutions for sustainable management of fresh water resources in an era of accelerating climate change.
Brijesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests in greater Bangalore, speaks at the inauguration of "Nature In the City" (Photo courtesy Anisha Nair).
Dr. Harini Nagendra delivers the talk "Nature in the City: How people shape and are shaped by biodiversity in Bangalore." (Photo courtesy Meera Baindur).
Summary of Recent Activities
Over the summer, the team continued their research on the set of 20 lakes identified for in-depth analytical focus in years 2 and 3 of the project. A standardized sampling protocol was applied across all 20 lakes for assessment of bird and plant diversity in the monsoon season, using a GPS to record spatial information on distribution. After an approach for open-ended interviews with residents around two lakes was field tested in the previous quarter by an intern, the team applied the same approach to other lakes, with information now available from a total of five lakes on past and current social and ecological uses of the lakes. High spatial resolution satellite images have been identified and ordered. Two young female PhD students at ATREE working on aspects of the PEER project—Hita Unnikrishnan and Shivani Agarwal—spent six weeks from August 20 to September 30, 2013, at the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), Stockholm University. The visit provided them with an opportunity to take graduate classes at SRC, present their research, and engage in discussions on their research with an international audience of globally renowned researchers working on the resilience of social-ecological systems. The PI, Harini Nagendra, is currently spending a semester in the United States as a Hubert H. Humphrey Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Department of Geography, Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September through December 2013. She is teaching two 300-level undergraduate classes, an Introduction to Remote Sensing and a Seminar Class on Land Change Science in the Global South. The remote sensing class builds on the Bangalore research by incorporating image analyses of land use/land cover changes in and around Bangalore’s lakes. Dr. Nagendra also recently contributed to Chapter 7 of a book
released by the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook project (CBO), which is the world’s first global analysis of how projected patterns of urban land expansion will impact biodiversity and crucial ecosystems. Her work on one of the lakes in Bangalore has also been featured in two films that can be viewed through this link