Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Supported CapaCITIES Project Enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with the State of Gujarat

Government of Gujarat enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation supported CapaCITIES project to enhance capacities in adopting integrated climate resilient planning. Three separate MoUs were also signed with the cities of Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Vadodara, where the phase 2 of the project will be implemented. The MoUs were signed today in the presence of Ambassador of Switzerland to India and Bhutan, Dr. Ralf Heckner.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Embassy of Switzerland to India and Bhutan, is supporting the implementation of the second phase of the CapaCITIES project in the states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Rajasthan in the cities of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Tiruchirappalli, Siliguri, and Udaipur.

After highlighting the fundamental role of cities and states governments in addressing the climate crisis, the Ambassador noted how the parties of the MoU were “setting an example”: “The state of Gujarat and the cities of Ahmedabad, Rajkot, and Vadodara, will be seen and imitated by other cities in India when it comes to concrete climate action plans to fight and mitigate climate change.”

The phase 1 of the “Capacity Building Project on Low Carbon and Climate Resilient City Development in India” (CapaCITIES) project (2016-2019) successfully achieved its goal of enabling a low emission growth path and enhancing climate change resilience in the four Indian cities of Rajkot, Coimbatore, Siliguri and Udaipur. These cities were amongst the first in India to officially ratify climate action plans and to allocate municipal budgets to implement these climate actions. Climate action plans worth 60 billion INR (736 million CHF) have been identified in all 4 cities, and 700 crores INR (84.7 million CHF) have already been earmarked for implementation of priority actions.

Within capacities, diverse pilot projects were implemented such as photovoltaic systems for water utilities and social housing, biomethanation, and decentralized compost facilities for processing biodegradable waste, resulting in significant reductions in Greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation related interventions such as groundwater recharge systems to reduce short term urban flooding, provision of acoustic water leak detection systems, improvement in vegetative covers, or rainwater harvesting were also realised.

In CapaCITIES phase 2 (2019-2023), the project will be supporting the two partner states and eight cities to mainstream climate action by enhancing their capacities to adopt integrated climate-resilient planning, design innovative private-public finance mechanisms and develop climate-resilient infrastructure. To achieve its goal, the project will draw from the Swiss technical expertise and experience with support from the Indian partners, customising it to the local context. The Implementing Agency (IA) of the project comprises of two Swiss entities – “South Pole Carbon Asset Management” and “econcept”, and the local Indian partner –“ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia”. The National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is the knowledge partner of the project.

Mr. Mukesh Puri, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development and Urban Housing Department, and Mr. S J Haider, IAS, Principal Secretary, Climate Change Department, signed the MoU on behalf of the two nodal departments to coordinate the project implementation.  Mr. Emani Kumar, Executive Director of ICLEI South Asia signed the MoU on behalf of the CapaCITIES’ IA. The three project cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Rajkot represented by their respective Municipal Commissioners have also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the project IA and the two respective state government departments, to formalise project execution in the cities.

The Rajkot city has made significant progress in its transition towards climate-resilient development with the support of the project in Phase 1. After preparing a climate action plan and allocating a municipal budget for its implementation, the city successfully installed a Solar PV system on the Aji Water Treatment Plant – the first such plant in Gujarat and one of the first in the country – leading to a monthly reduction of nearly 7.25 tonnes of CO2 equivalent of GHG emissions. The project also supported the design and installation of a 32 kW Solar Photovoltaic system on a social housing project. The rooftop PV system provides electricity for common areas and helps save nearly 3 tons of carbon emissions monthly, while also resulting in monetary savings to the community.

In the ongoing second phase, the project is providing support to all the smart cities in Gujarat in reporting to the Climate Smart Cities Assessment Framework, a flagship initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. CapaCITIES project is also providing technical support for developing innovative financing models to foster large-scale deployment of climate-resilient infrastructure and the preparation of relevant policies. In addition, innovative pilot projects with significant upscaling potential and financing mechanisms to promote climate action will also be implemented in the state.

Building on the successes of the first phase, the project will continue to work with the state government of Gujarat and the partner cities to mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation into development policies.

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