Agro-ecosystem based sustainability indicators for climate resilient agriculture in India: A conceptual framework

Rao C. S. et al. | Ecological Indicators | 2019 | Peer Reviewed | Original research| Policy brief |


The impending threats of changing climate have been well documented across sectors. The climate risks are best addressed through increasing adaptive capacity and building resilience. Ever since the global call during the Rio Summit in 1992 for establishing sustainability indicators across sectors, there have been several studies across the world on developing indicators for sustainability, vulnerability and climate resilience. Agriculture, the most vulnerable system to changing climate, depends on the resilience of both social and ecological systems. This paper focuses on integrating the variability of climate into the agricultural sustainability measurement with a broad base of indicators and bringing in the localized factors for representing the agroecosystem specificities. The paper also aims at identifying indicators for measuring climate resilient agriculture in Indian sub-continent and developing a conceptual framework for profiling the spatial resilience across various agro-ecosystems for appropriate location-specific policy interventions. In the current study 1209 indicators used in various research studies were screened, grouped for similarity and purpose and classified based on the various dimensions viz., social, economic, ecological, etc. After a critical review based on their appropriateness as a measurable indicator, extent of overlap, relevance in Indian context and possible data availability, 41 indicators were shortlisted for validation through a comprehensive structured online survey among subject matter specialists (n = 225). The responses from the experts (n = 36) were analysed using weighted sum model (WSM) and analytic hierarchy process (AHP). The study identifies a list of 30 sustainability indicators for climate resilient agriculture in India, that are particularly suitable for different agro-ecosystems of the sub-continent. The authors advocate an action-oriented model called Climate Risk Management Package for Agriculture (CRiMPA) to aid in planning spatial/agro-ecosystem specific interventions, which in turn could strengthen the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) of Government of India.