Odisha was the one of the first states to begin work on a Climate Change Action Plan in 2009. The plan had the support of the Chief Minister (CM) and was led separately by two senior bureaucrats who put in place very different institutional practices and time-lines. As a result the climate plan seems to be formulated in two distinct phases. The first phase was characterised by tight deadlines with the aim of generating a slew of new ideas for departments to pursue. There were some regional consultations but none in the pre- drafts stages. In the second phase, the process was reined in to accommodate greater civil society participation. Some small but crucial changes were also made to the content of the document, extending the process by over a year.
Odisha was in many ways a pioneer in drafting a climate plan as it had no framework to refer to at the time. The plan as a result, drew on donor agencies and consultants for support and the state did not commission any science-based research on climate change for the region. Much of the initial secondary research was carried by a donor agency as part of the Scoping Report on Climate Change in Odisha. At the behest of state officials however, the plan includes nearly as many mitigation actions as adaptation plans, driven by financial and economic considerations. The resultant document is a sizable wish list with an equally substantial financial allocation.
Notably, in the last two and half years, the state has taken up a number of ‘mitigative’ steps, in addition to putting in place some institutional structures to address climate change in Odisha. While these are predominantly ongoing activities, they reiterate the state’s interest in addressing specific environmental and economic issues, and signal efforts at mainstreaming sustainable development in sectoral planning.
Finally, recent reports – in the aftermath of cyclone Phailin – indicate that the Odisha government has decided to implement the climate plan in its entirely without waiting for financial assistance from the central government.5 The Odisha climate plan, as of January 2014, has not yet been endorsed by the central government’s National Steering Committee.