Tag Archives: Ground Level Panel

Ground Level Panel: Agrarian Communities’s Action Plan on Climate Change

Praxis conducted it’s second Ground Level Panel from May 29-31, with a presentation of the findings in consultation with community members on June 1 at the Constitution Club, New Delhi.

The Ground Level Panel consisted of 13 farmers and agricultural workers from six districts across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand who came together to evolve an action plan on climate change. The expertise of the panellists lay in their lived experience and not as researchers, policymakers or academicians. Over three days from May 29-31, the panelists collectively explored their local realities, experiences, perspectives and strategies they employed to cope with the effects of climate change. This process aimed to lead to policy formation through the members of the farming community and their informed responses to how Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) affects them. The ground level panel process enabled the community members to transition from being carriers of knowledge to the owners and users of knowledge.


Climate change has become a significant global issue at the turn of the century. With the ride of temperatures, there are warning reports from the World Bank that there will be severe impacts in the next 10-20 years. While this has prompted climate change’s visibility in global policy debates, there is a lack of community participation. This is of real and immediate concern, especially in a country like India, where 70% of India’s population is still dependent on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture, fishing and forests. People at the margins – the landless, small and marginal farmers, Dalit and indigenous people, rural women and children and other such relatively voiceless communities, are pushed further away from policy debates.

Taking lessons from a Ground Level Panel organised by Praxis in 2013, where a group of 13 people living in poverty and marginalisation came together to respond to the UN High Level Panel’s recommendations on what should replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this second Ground Level Panel on agriculture and climate change was facilitated by Praxis, with support from Oxfam India, Dialectics and Partners in Change (PiC). The 13 farmers belonged to thirteen habitations located in 6 districts across Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to discuss the impact of climate change on their lives and the need to examine the state level action plans on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Among them, they represented several identies – there were seven women and six men in the team, of whom one was less than 25, four were in the 26-40 age group and eight were above 40. Three of the panellists were landless, while the others owned some amount of land. The group had religious diversity, with one following the tenets of Dr Ambedkar, two Muslims and the rest Hindus. There were eight farmers, five who worked as agricultural labour and five who engaged in daily wage work along with working on the fields. There were eight Dalit panellist and five from the OBC community. There were also three who migrated on work to supplement their income.

The Process:

The Ground-Level Panel employed a deliberative and participative dialogue process, during which the 13 participants discussed how climate change had impacted their lives and shared their inputs on the State Action Plans on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals. The panellists derived their expertise from their day-to-day experience. The aim of the panel was to ground policies and global agendas in knowledge from the margins.

The Findings:

The panelists deliberated on key questions, which relate to the impact of climate change on their agricultural practices, livelihoods, environment and life styles. They also reflected on state and global policies and made recommendations, giving reasons for their recommendations, which were shared with civil society, government agencies and the media.

For the community, climate change has a multitude of variables which range from climate to agricultural production and from agricultural practices and other vulnerabilities which result from this to their coping mechanism for the same. It would be inappropriate to simplify this complexity as climate change.

The panellists felt they were trapped in a maze of changes in climates that led to changes in agricultural production to changes in agricultural practices which then impacted their lives. This maze was difficult to get out because it perpetuated itself constantly. One of the examples that the farmers mentioned is that they were encouraged by the State to use fertilisers to improve yield. These were supplied widely and while it did serve the purpose initially, they had to keep increasing the quantity of fertiliser and water as years went by. What has happened is a complete depletion of soil quality and a situation that farmers are contributing to climate change with the use of fertilisers.

Read the consolidated report here. The three state reports can be read on following the links below:

Uttar Pradesh


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Participation – Going beyond the rhetoric

Tom Thomas, Chief Executive of Praxis, recently addressed United Nations member states at A post-2015 agenda for people and the planet – Echoing voices from civil society, an event organised by Beyond 2015, the Permamnent Mission of Denmark to the United Nations and other organisations to brief them about developments in discussions on the post-2015 agenda. The broad focus of the discussions were on the vital importance of the inclusion of equality across all levels and themes of the post-2015 framework, and addressing all dimensions of sustainable development through implementation and accountability mechanism.

During his presentation, Tom built a case for deeper participation and raised a few vital questions about whose participation we envisage, in what areas and what kind.

Here are some excerpts from his speech:

“A wealth of inspiring, deep and not always inward looking recommendations have emerged from people living in poverty. Equity and equality stand out as the core of people’s concern, and People, Planet and Participation have emerged as the three most important pillars on which to build the post 2015 framework.

These welcome beginnings notwithstanding, the larger question that begs an answer is how participation will be placed in the post 2015 framework. Rhetoric as usual or will the UN and governments be more imaginative to infuse into the framework a participation that has the potential to deepen democracies and produce superior outcomes?”

Pointing out the need for exploring and unpacking ‘community’, which is a conglomerate of excluded and marginalised identities, he calls for the inclusion of not only invisible groups such as disabled, lower castes and religious minorities, among others, but also ignored groups like youth and children.

“It must be recognized that there will be many sub population groups that will be normally invisible and ignored, even through ‘participatory processes’ – both by commission and omission. While a certain amount of discussion has taken place over the past decade about the invisible sub groups like the disabled, the elderly, the lower caste, religious minorities, women, etc., not enough has been said about the ignored population. Youth and children are a classic example of groups that get ignored as many of the processes are designed with an able bodied adult male as the active participant.”

Limiting participation to the process of goal setting would be a big mistake as it will reinforce their identity as receivers of dole.

“Raising communities to the level of active participants and partners in the framing, roll out and monitoring, will not merely make the targets more achievable, but also raise the self esteem of communities, an essential factor to help them stay out of poverty and better theirs and their communities’ lives.”

Participation should not be the kind aimed at increasing efficiency of a project or goal, but rather the kind that aims at empowerment. An empowered citizen, he says is better equipped to claim rights essential for better living.

“… what we need support for and champions from the member states, is to move participation from a mere ‘efficiency coefficient’ to an ’empowerment coefficient’.”

Rejecting the two big barriers cited for seeing participation as an essential component of any planning or implementing exercise, Tom points out examples of Praxis’ experience on how involving people cuts down the cost and increases the accuracy of information.

“The (high) estimates are for expert-led monitoring that as the authors themselves admit will finally at best yield estimates. The question then, would be, whether we want a monitoring that gives us accurately wrong information by experts or approximately correct information led by communities? Participatory monitoring not just gives you approximately correct data, it also engages communities in understanding and analyzing data thereby raising their critical consciousness and self esteem and make them not just recipients, but active partners.”

And last, but not the least, as Praxis experience with the shows, these are “testimonies of people’s capacities to vision for a future that is achievable”.

Tom ends with a call for action, urging the audience to help communities and civil society organisations claim spaces of participation within the post-2015 framework.

You can read the full speech here

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Ground-Level Panel India – A Brief Note

The Ground-Level Panel consists of 15 members from diverse background living in poverty and experienced marginalization who will come together for five days from July 14-18, 2013, to deliberate on their responses and recommendations to the United Nations High-Level Panel report on the post-2015 global development framework. They are not members of any government, private or non-governmental organisations or associated with any political parties or trade unions. Instead, the panelists draw on their own experiences of marginalisation and exclusion to provide a ‘ground-level’ reality check to the High-Level Panel, co-chaired by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of Indonesia and Liberia.

There is a growing interest among global civil society and state actors on the process to decide what should replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. The United Nations High-level Panel recently submitted its recommendations on the global development framework beyond 2015.
At the same time, several organisations are leading their own consultations with representatives from the ground, sector experts and policy makers to feed into this process. Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices, an organisation working on issues of inclusion and governance, as part of a global research initiative called Participate, will build and support the Ground-Level Panel, to deliberate on existing recommendations from global policy spaces for a post 2015 framework for international development and present the findings at an exhibition-cum-discussion in Delhi on July 19. This process is part of similar initiatives organised by the Centre for Development Services in Egypt, International Movement of All Together for Dignity Fourth World in Brazil and Restless Development in Uganda.

Process and goal
The Ground-Level Panel will employ a deliberative and participative dialogue process, during which the 15 participants will discuss how the Millennium Development Goals have impacted the lives of the panelists and how any future development framework that will affect their lives should be. The aim of the panel is to provide a counterpoint to the dominance of ‘professional, political and academic voices in the global policy-making processes’ and will bring people from the poorest and most marginalised communities together to deliberate on what should be the core elements of an international framework, drawing on external evidence and the evidence of their own experience.

The final element of the process will bring together the messages emerging from these deliberations in order to understand the global patterns and dissonances in the critiques that are built. The panelists will draw on the evidence presented in this report and deliberate on key questions, which relate to post-2015 framework for international development using their own experience and knowledge. They will be asked to reflect, to make recommendations, and to give their reasoning for their recommendations, which will then be shared with civil society, government agencies and the media to collectively voice for change.

On 19 July, the panelists will hold an outreach day in Delhi to present their recommendations to local and national audiences, including decision-makers, the media and civil society organisations.

Outreach day location, 19 July:

Speaker’s Hall
The Constitution Club of India

Vithal Bhai Patel House,
Rafi Marg,
New Delhi-110 001

For more information on attending the outreach day please contact:

Lorina: lorinaa@praxisindia.org
Anusha: anushac@praxisindia.org
+91 11 4713 2206



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