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Decoding the Intersectionalities between Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals in the Global South: A Dasra and ORF Report

Published: August 4, 2023

Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organization, along with Observer Research Foundation launched a landmark report on the intersection of climate and the SDGs in India titled Our Uncommon Future : Intersectionality of Climate Change and SDGs in the Global South at the Think20 (T20) Summit on 31 July 2023. The T20 is an official engagement group of the G20 and serves as an “ideas bank” for the G20 by bringing together think tanks and high-level experts to deliberate on relevant policy issues.

Dasra and ORF launch the report at a recent T20 event at Mysuru

The report delves into key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and aims to identify measures where policymakers can create convergence in efforts to tackle climate change and barriers to respective SDGs. In the year of India’s G20 presidency, the report endeavors to highlight these Intersectionalities in the Indian context – displaying learnings for India from various global experiences and showcasing climate action from civil society organizations in India.

The report seeks to shed light on the intricate web of connections between climate change and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), SDG 15 (Life on Land), and SDG 17 (Partnerships for Goals), highlighting the urgency of a holistic approach in our pursuit of a sustainable future. The report also looks at innovative interventions and solutions addressing the issues posed by these intersectionalities, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized communities in the country. These case studies serve as compendium of insights, good practices and lessons shared by diverse actors on driving equitable climate action and strengthening community resilience.

The launch of the report was followed by a panel discussion on ”Threads of Transformation: Unraveling the Intersectionalities between the SDGs and Climate Change” featuring Neera Nundy, Managing Partner, Dasra, India; Danang Parikesit, Professor, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia; Vijay Datta, Principal, Modern School (Barakhamba Road), India; Li Xiaoyun, Chair Professor, China Agricultural University (CAU), China; Prarthana Ramesh, Head – Environment City Systems, Janaagraha, India; Uthara Narayanan Co-founder, Buzz Women, India and Aparna Roy (moderator), Fellow and Lead, Climate Change and Energy, Centre for New Economic Diplomacy, Observer Research Foundation. The discussion explored the intersectionalities between climate and various critical SDGs, particularly with respect to their impact on underserved communities in the Global South. Panelists also discussed the role that various stakeholders can play in supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, while also strengthening the resilience of the communities at the frontline of climate impacts.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Neera Nundy, Co-founder, Dasra said, “Addressing climate change is not a solitary endeavor; to inspire and engage stakeholders for climate action, we need to talk about the interlinkages and intersectionalities between climate and development and make it clear that investing in climate is investing in sustainable development for all.Climate action represents 0.5% of overall domestic philanthropic funding in India, which meets only 10% of our climate financing needs. We must inspire philanthropy to unlock climate action and build adaptive resilience for the most vulnerable communities, by making the climate – SDG intersectionality mainstream. The movement towards a sustainable and inclusive future for our communities mandates the involvement of all actors in climate action. Civil society, the government, philanthropic organizations, industry and consumers must understand why it is important to shift this paradigm to an intersectional and collaborative approach.”

As we face mounting global challenges related to climate change and sustainable development, it becomes increasingly evident that addressing these issues in isolation is no longer feasible. Climate change has profound implications for all aspects of human life and the planets ecosystems, including the realization of the SDGs. Despite climate change being a global concern, its impact is different across geographies, the situation being particularly grave for India. India is the fifth most vulnerable of 181 countries to the effects of climate change, with our poorest and marginalized communities being the most at risk. The top 5 cities in India contribute 10% to its carbon footprint, a number only set to worsen. Given India’s vulnerability to climate change and its impact on the SDGs, there is an urgent need to move from symptoms of the crisis to the root causes and strengthen localized climate governance for effective sustainable development.

“We stand at the crossroads of climate change and sustainable development, and this report serves as a compass for the future, where environmental stewardship and social equity converge. We must recognize that every aspect of our life, from biodiversity preservation to gender equality, poverty eradication to healthcare, is interconnected with the urgent need to address the climate crisis. Only by uniting these efforts can we pave the way for a sustainable, equitable, and resilient future for all,” said Nilanjan Ghosh, Director, Observer Research Foundation.

Key takeaways of the report:

With the global system facing a multitude of crises across the social, health, and environmental spectrum, there is an urgent need for scaling international cooperation to find solutions. Development cooperation is increasingly recognizing the roles that stakeholders play in the climate ecosystem, such as the private sector, civil society organizations (CSOs), and philanthropic organizations.

India’s large philanthropic community is uniquely positioned to support the CSOs driving climate action by offering capacity building, long-term capital, and technical assistance and can play a catalytic role in supplementing the efforts of other development stakeholders towards climate action.

India’s vibrant civil society, with its proximity to communities, vast geographical spread, and unique mobilization skills, has the potential to scale inclusive climate action in the country and enhance climate resilience at the grassroots.

SDG 17 envisions encouraging and promoting effective public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

To read the full report, click here.

To read the highlights of the report – click here.

About Dasra

Dasra, meaning ‘enlightened giving‘ in Sanskrit, is a pioneering strategic philanthropy organization that aims to transform India where a billion thrive with dignity and equity. Since its inception in 1999, Dasra has accelerated social change by driving collaborative action through powerful partnerships among a trust-based network of stakeholders (corporates, foundations, families, non-profits, social businesses, government and media). Over the years, Dasra has deepened social impact in focused fields that include Climate, Adolescents, Urban Sanitation and Democracy and Governance, and has built social capital by leading a strategic philanthropy movement in the country.

For more information, visit

About ORF

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) is an independent global think tank based in Delhi, India. The foundation has three centres in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. ORF provides potentially viable inputs for policy and decision-makers in the Indian Government and to the political and business communities of India.

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