Entrenched Vulnerabilities: Evaluating Climate Justice across Development and Adaptation Responses in Southern India

Sumetee Pahwa Gajjar, Garima Jain, Kavya Michael, Chandni Singh | 2019


This chapter interrogates the notion of justice (or the lack of it) in India’s domestic policies and political priorities for climate change in the context of development interventions or adaptation strategies in regions with highly vulnerable communities. Drawing on three sites in Southern India, we distil how vulnerability is created, exacerbated, or re-created, as people move: either by migrating within or across states, or by relocating within city regions. Vulnerability to climate change is socially differentiated, determined by a range of economic, political, and environmental factors, and often experienced at a local scale. However, responses to climate change are planned at national or regional levels, with rare, if any, attention paid to local spheres of governance. State interventions to address vulnerability are often crafted through “who is identified as vulnerable” and “who identifies the vulnerable,” and may or may not correspond to climate policies for the country or the region. Each case illustrates that understanding vulnerability and how it is constructed is a key part of achieving climate justice. Through our analysis, we argue for understanding vulnerability beyond the present and translating this understanding into multi-scale, climate policy design.