Towards Low Carbon Growth at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The bottom of the pyramid, which constitutes more than 42 per cent of the global population, is the most vulnerable to climate change risks. The recent disasters that shook Nepal, Bihar and washed away parts of Uttarakhand left us staring at this fact. In these events, the mass majority who were affected were from the poorer socio-economic group. An increasing frequency of epidemics and diseases in this group only make matters worse.

Through a differentiated approach, their livelihoods can be secured by providing employability skills and access to finance that would not only lower their vulnerability to climate change risks but also allow them to get on a low carbon growth path.

The climate change risks, therefore, have the potential to affect the society in more ways than one, and most of which, we are not, and cannot be prepared for. The issues, if not addressed in due time, can brew social unrest and even act as precursors to the impending wars over the most important of natural resources; water.

Policy makers across the world have realised there is a need to move away from traditional welfare models that were based on subsidies or grants, as it became increasingly clear that while these interventions could provide short-term remedies, they cannot be long-term, sustainable solutions.

The concerted effort, therefore, needs to be towards empowering the populace on different fronts that can positively impact their livelihood security. Improving their agricultural skills, providing better education and thereby improving their opportunities, facilitating infrastructure to ensure basic amenities, financial inclusion and improving their access to banking, delivering quality healthcare, and most importantly, providing enough food are the needs of the hour.

A grim reality

Creating enabling environments for the bottom of the pyramid to participate in the mainstream economy has shown to create a longer term economic impact. Livelihood security, thus, becomes a critical component of government policy as it is directly linked to other socio-economic and environmental outcomes in a society.

In parallel, climate change is a grim reality and there are millions of Indians at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) who are earning their livelihood in sectors that are highly vulnerable to climate change risks. Responding to these risks becomes pertinent in India where their livelihoods are negatively impacted whenever disasters such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones and drought strike.

Source: The Hindu Business Line (link opens in a new window)

Base of the Pyramid