The climate crisis impacts everyone. Any proposed law and/or policies aimed at combating climate change must reflect views from diverse stakeholders. Hence, public consultations are critical as this mechanism allows individuals, communities, and civil society organizations to share their views, participate in decision-making and impact policies that will shape the future of the planet. Public consultations improve the legitimacy and acceptance of the policies as they instill a sense of ownership and cooperation among those who are directly affected by them.
With an aim to increase citizen participation in Indias environment and climate policymaking, Civis, a community-driven non-profit organization along with the support of the Rainmatter Foundation launched a first-of-its-kind guide titled, Climate Voices. The guide underlines the importance of public consultation in co-creating India’s environmental laws and aims to enable citizens to understand and actively participate in the lawmaking process.
The guide explores the roles and responsibilities of three stakeholders – citizens, civil society and media, in co-creating India’s environmental laws by participating in public consultations on draft legislation. Climate Voices is available in five languages: English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Tamil, and can be downloaded via WhatsApp at RESOURCE: Climate Voices (civis.vote).
Speaking about adopting a citizen-centric approach while developing laws that affect the community, Antaraa Vasudev, Founder and CEO of Civis said,“In India, we have a wealth of untapped potential among active citizens who are keen to engage with and work alongside the Government – to ensure inclusive environmental law-making. ‘Climate Voices’ is one such resource that aims to build a bridge between different stakeholders and leverages community knowledge to enable greater dialogue on environmental laws.”
Climate Voices is a go-to guide for anyone who wants to make a difference in India’s environmental law-making and play an active role in shaping our climate policies. Through real-life examples of individuals, communities, and civil society organisations, readers will discover how public consultations give a voice to everyone, allowing them to express their views and interests on how their environment should be managed.
Speaking about the significance of public consultation and the relevance of the guide, Marisha Karwa of the Rainmatter Foundation, said, “Most of us, as individuals or as community groups, feel as though we are silent bystanders to the climate crisis and the environmental degradation around us. We need not feel that way. Climate Voices is a step-by-step guide for us to participate in the environmental lawmaking process – offering suggestions and feedback to proposed bills and regulations is vital to conservation efforts and safeguarding our landscapes from further threats.”
India has had notable instances where public consultations have led to better environmental laws and policies, such as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 – better known as the Forest Rights Act. This crucial legislation passed by Parliament recognizes the rights of forest-dwelling communities who have been residing on forest land for generations. The act was the result of years of collective action by these communities, who made their voices heard in the decision-making process. The act recognizes three types of rights for forest dwellers: right over forest land, community rights, and rights over community forest resources.
A series of public consultations helped shape the final legislation and ensured that the rights and needs of forest-dwelling communities were prioritized. Today, with the advent of technology – such consultations can be made more accessible, by encouraging communities to share their feedback virtually over digital platforms and ensuring that the barriers to participation are reduced.
Civis is a civic-technology non-profit platform that works to build dialogue between governments and citizens on draft laws and policies, using technology to bridge the gap between the two. Among many things, the organisation aims to equip citizens to be able to contribute to Indias lawmaking process and building inclusive policies that are centered around those citizens who the law affects the most.
About Rainmatter Foundation
The Rainmatter Foundation is a non-profit organisation backed by the founders of Zerodha to support organisations and initiatives for climate action, a healthier environment, and livelihoods associated with them. The Foundation supports various stakeholders (CSOs, NGOs, startups, policy makers etc) in the climate space, especially in the areas of food and farm systems, restoration and conservation, urban ecology and energy and transport. This is an investment into our own future and well-being.