Shloka Nath on climate, collaboration, and COVID-19

One of the panellists as AVPN 2020 was Shloka Nath, Executive Director of the recently-formed India Climate Collaborative (ICC). As one of the conference themes was collaboration, she talks to Alliance about how ICC puts the concept into practice, what its aims and purpose are, about how climate issues play into the development of the global south and about the double aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic on climate change.

Shloka Nath, Executive Director of the India Climate Collaborative

What’s the genesis of the India Climate Collaborative? Why did it come about now?

Three years ago in 2017, I was appointed to lead and establish the sustainability portfolio at the Tata Trusts, which is one of the leading philanthropic organisations in India and there was a move to start thinking about climate change from the perspective of overarching quality of life. We’d been working in a number of fields that were related to climate change, things like agriculture, livelihood, sanitation, etc., but we hadn’t embedded a climate lens in our work, nor were we directing any funds directly to climate change. What I realised was that the challenge of starting to think about climate change more broadly and what we could do in that space wasn’t unique to the Tata Trusts. Through the research that we did, we learned for instance that less than 10 per cent of philanthropic funding in India goes towards climate change. So over the course of the next year, as we were building up the portfolio, we spent a lot of time trying to understand what the entry barriers and challenges were for the rest of the sector and we realised that they were high and numerous. To give you an example, there’s a tremendous lack of technical expertise. No-one had the tools they required to build in a climate lens across their portfolio. A second challenge is creating a common baseline around the understanding of climate so that when I say ‘climate’ and you say ‘climate’, we’re referring to the same thing.

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