Mangrove forest in India

Priority area Climate resilience, agroecology and conservation of natural resources Preserving ecosystem services, ensuring food security, adapting to climate change

Protecting vital natural resources on the Indian subcontinent is a matter of national and global importance. In a setting of growing population density and industrialisation, the current level of knowledge, planning capacity and financial resources available in India is not yet sufficient to address the high level of environmental degradation and pollution, ensure food and nutrition security and cushion the impact of climate change. Germany therefore supports India's efforts at the national and state levels, especially with a focus on particularly disadvantaged and vulnerable population groups.

Agriculture is the source of livelihood for more than half of India's people. However, 40 per cent of the country's forest areas and 60 per cent of its agricultural land are already affected by degradation. The consequences of climate change are increasingly exacerbating these challenges.

Germany's development cooperation with India focuses on mapping and analysing environmental change and climate risks, developing adaptation strategies and local development plans, devising innovative financing and protection models, and fighting poverty, hunger and inequality through agroecology.

As a result of Indo-German cooperation activities, as much as 4.7 million hectares of land is now being managed in a sustainable, participatory and climate-smart way. Livelihoods have been improved for 5.6 million people, who have been able to increase their incomes through sustainable resource management. So far, 160 million people in eight states benefit directly and indirectly from improved climate change adaptation planning.

Agroecology and water management

Joint Declaration of Intent on Agroecology and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources (Lighthouse Initiative)

Between the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare of the Republic of India

File type PDF | Date of status 05/2022 | File size 134 KB, Pages 6 Pages

In May 2022, the BMZ and the Indian agriculture ministry agreed on a flagship initiative: Agroecology and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources. This initiative, in which the private sector, academia and civil society are also involved, is supporting the Indian government in its agroecological transition towards more resilient agricultural and food systems, and in the conservation of natural resources.

The BMZ is making available up to 300 million euros for innovative efforts in this field in the period up to 2025. Germany's activities have the target of providing direct and indirect support to 20 million smallholders up to 2030. 20 million hectares of land are to be used for organic farming.

The activities are aimed at improving the quality of soil and its water storage capacity, increasing small farmers' yields and incomes, and reducing their spending on fertiliser and pesticides. The shift to participatory, agroecological farming practices is meant to reduce the risk of harvest losses and improve climate resilience.

The goals of the initiative are also fostered through the projects which the BMZ is supporting in India as part of its Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”. One example is the Indo-German Global Academy for Agroecology Research and Learning, which was established in Andhra Pradesh in July 2022. It provides knowledge on organic farming, organic fertiliser and food security. The activities under the Special Initiative also include efforts to strengthen South-South networks – this, too, is a goal of the agroecology initiative.

A man irrigates plants at the Green Innovation Centre in Rukka, India, which was set up with support from the BMZ.

A man irrigates plants at the Green Innovation Centre in Rukka, India, which was set up with support from the BMZ.

A man irrigates plants at the Green Innovation Centre in Rukka, India, which was set up with support from the BMZ.

India's natural water resources – both surface water and groundwater – are under serious threat from pollution, overexploitation, intensive use of mineral fertiliser and pesticides, and the impact of climate change. Some 30 per cent of the wetlands that are significant for water security are already degraded. The BMZ therefore supports the environmentally sustainable and efficient use of water resources, and data-based, inclusive planning activities to improve water security and climate resilience.

Conservation, restoration and sustainable use of forests

India's forests are the source of livelihood of over 300 million people. They are home to 80 per cent of biodiversity on land, and they play an important role as carbon sinks. The aim of Indo-German cooperation efforts is to conserve biodiverse forest ecosystems, restore important habitats, and increase their climate resilience. The intention is to conserve and improve the natural resource base that the local people depend on for their livelihoods.

The focus of this cooperation is on the Himalayan region and on other states with large areas of forest. Activities in these regions include the improvement of gender-based decision-making, the prevention of deforestation through incentives and investments, and the creation of alternative income opportunities. Support is also being provided to sustainable, participatory forms of ecological forestry.

As at: 06/06/2023