Overview

India is a very large country, covering 3.28 million square kilometers, or 2.4 per cent of the world’s land surface area (MEF, 2004). It has the second largest population in the world, being home to approximately 1.17 billion people in 2010, or 15 per cent of the world’s population.  About 29 per cent of this population lives in urban areas (USDS, 2010).  Although India’s economy has diversified substantially over the past several decades, approximately 64 per cent of the country’s population remains dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods (MEF, 2004).  Agriculture generated 18 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008, superseded by its services (54 per cent of GDP) and industrial (29 percent) sectors (USDS, 2010). 

India has reasons to be concerned about the impacts of climate change. Its large population depends on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry for livelihoods. Any adverse impact on water availability due to recession of glaciers, decrease in rainfall and increased flooding in certain pockets would threaten food security, cause die back of natural ecosystems including species that sustain the livelihoods of rural households, and adversely impact the coastal system due to sea level rise and increased frequency of extreme events. In addition to these impacts, achievement of vital national development goals related to other systems such as habitats, health, energy demand, and infrastructure investments would be adversely affected.