Understanding How Local-level Environment Stewardship Initiatives Increase Livelihood Resilience to Climate Change

Insights from Rajasthan, India


  • Tenzin Chorran Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
  • Bhavana Rao Kuchimanchi Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
  • Shreya Karmakar Independent Researcher
  • Himani Sharma Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
  • Debarupa Ghosh Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
  • Pratiti Priyadarshini Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)




Common Property Resources, Local Governance, Vulnerability to Climate Change, Collective Management of Natural Resources, Secure Property Rights


Common property resources (CPR) are central for the sustenance of biodiversity and rural communities in India. Weak institutional governance and the lack of tenure rights for local communities over CPRs is resulting in degradation and over-exploitation of resources making rural communities vulnerable across India. Climatic variabilities further exacerbate existing socio-ecological imbalances multifold. Within the broader area of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, this paper explores how restoration of CPRs through local environment stewardship initiatives contributes to the resilience of rural livelihoods in the face of climate change. A mixed-methods approach was employed to study this aspect in six villages in two districts in Rajasthan. It was found that secure property rights and collective management of CPRs enhances household resilience and improves ecological health. It concludes that processes supporting local self-governance need to be central to local adaptation to climate change, as they naturally create resilient and sustainable rural livelihoods.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Tenzin Chorran, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), PB No. 29, Anand 388001, Guajrat, India (Anand).

Bhavana Rao Kuchimanchi, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), PB No. 29, Anand 388001, Guajrat, India (Anand).

Shreya Karmakar, Independent Researcher

Block EB, Plot 44, 1811b Rajdanga Main Road, East Kolkata Township, Kolkata 700 107, India.

Himani Sharma, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), PB No. 29, Anand 388001, Guajrat, India (Anand).

Debarupa Ghosh , Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES). A-160, Near S Bhilwara, Rajasthan 311 001, India.

Pratiti Priyadarshini , Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)

Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), PB No. 29, Anand 388001, Guajrat, India.


Ali, J. 2007. “Commentary: Livestock, Common Property Resources and Rural Smallholders in India.” International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability 5 (4): 265–268. https://doi.org/10.1080/14735903.2007.9684826.

Agarwal, A. 2000. “Conceptualizing Environmental Collective Action: Why Gender Matters.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 24 (3): 283–310. https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/24.3.283.

———. 2001. “Common Property Institutions and Sustainable Governance of Resources.” World Development 29 (10): 1649–1672. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(01)00063-8.

———. 2008. “The Role of Local Institutions in Adaptation to Climate Change.” Michigan: School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan. IFRI Working Paper W081-3: 8–29.

Aguilar, B. and T. D. Sisk. 2009. “A Framework to Evaluate Ecological and Social Outcomes of Collaborative Management: Lessons from Implementation with a Northern Arizona Collaborative Group.” Environmental Management 45: 132–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-009-9400-y.

Aryal, J. P., T. B. Sapkota, R. Khurana, et al. 2020. “Climate Change and Agriculture in South Asia: Adaptation Options in Smallholder Production Systems.” Environment, Development and Sustainability 22: 5045–5075. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-019-00414-4.

Balasubramanian, M., and V. Birundha. 2012. “Climate Change and its Impact on India.” The IUP Journal of Environmental Sciences VI (1): 31–46.

Bantilan, C. S., N. P. Singh, and N. S. Jodha. 2012. “The Commons, Communities and Climate Change.” Economic & Political Weekly 47(13): 31.

Beck, T. and C. Nesmith. 2001. “Building on Poor People’s Capacities: The Case of Common Property Resources in India and West Africa.” World Development 29 (1): 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(00)00089-9.

Beck, T. and M. G. Ghosh. 2000. “Common Property Resources and the Poor: Findings from West Bengal.” Economic & Political Weekly 65 (3): 147–153.

Binder, C. R., J. Hinkel, P. W. G. Bots, C. Pahl-Wostl. 2013. “Comparison of Frameworks for Analyzing Social-ecological systems.” Ecology and Society 18 (4): 26. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-05551-180426

Bromley, D. and M. Cernea. 1989. “The Management of Common Property Natural Resources: Some Conceptual and Operational Fallacies.” World Bank Discussion Paper 57. Washington D.C.: World Bank.

Carabine, E. and A. Lemma (principle authors). 2014. “The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for South Asia.” London and Cape Town: Overseas Development Institute and Climate and Development Knowledge Network.

Chatterjee, K., A. Chatterjee, and S. Das. 2005. “Case Study 2: India Community Adaptation to Drought in Rajasthan.” Institute of Development Studies (IDS) Bulletin 36 (4): 33–52. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1759-5436.2005.tb00233.x

Dupar, M. and N. Badenoch. 2002. “Environment, Livelihoods and Local Institutions: Decentralization in mainland Southeast Asia.” Washington DC: World Resources Institute.

Eakin, H., E. L. Tompkins, D. R. Nelson, and J. M. Anderies. 2012. “Hidden Costs and Disparate Uncertainties: Trade-Offs in Approaches to Climate Policy.” In Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values, Governance, edited by W. N. Adger, I. Lorenzoni, and K. L. O’Brien, 212–226. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511596667.014.

Gaur, M. K., R. K. Goyal, S. Kalappurakkal, and C. B. Pandey. 2018. Common Property Resources in Drylands of India. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 25 (6): 491–499. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504509.2018.1423646.

GoI. 2012a. Agriculture Contingency Plan for Bhilwara. 2012. New Delhi: Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Welfare, Government of India. http://agricoop.nic.in/sites/default/files/RAJ18-Bhilwara-9.3.2012.pdf

GoI. 2012b. Agriculture Contingency Plan for Udaipur. 2012. New Delhi: Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Welfare, Government of India. http://agricoop.nic.in/sites/default/files/RAJ22-Udaipur-9.3.2012.pdf.

GoR. 2013. Hydrogeological Atlas of Rajasthan. 2013. Ground Water Department, Government of Rajasthan. https://energy.rajasthan.gov.in/content/dam/doitassets/water/Ground%20Water/Pdf/PublicReports/Groundwater_Atlas/State/Rajasthan%20State%20Ground%20Water%20Atlas%202013%20V10.pdf

Hall, R., I. Scoones, and B. White. 2013. “Governing Global Land Deals: The Role of the State in the Rush for Land.” Development and Change 44(2): 189–210. https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12017.

Hijioka, Y., E. Lin, J. J. Pereira, R. T. Corlett, X. Cui, G. E. Insarov, R. D. Lasco, E. Lindgren, and A. Surjan. 2014. “Asia.” In Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by V. R. Barros, C. B. Field, D. J. Dokken, et al, 1327–1370. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Ibisch, P. L., A. Vega E., and T. M. Herrmann, eds. 2010. “Interdependence of Biodiversity and Development Under Global Change.” Second corrected edition. Technical Series No. 54. Montreal: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

India Meteorological Department (n.d.) “Realized Weather”. Pune: Ministry of Earth Sciences. https://mausam.imd.gov.in/imd_latest/contents/realized.php.

International Forestry Resources and Institutions. 2013. “Instruments/Forms Short Versions”. http://ifri.forgov.org/ifri-instrumentsforms-short-version.

Janssen, M. and J. Anderies. 2013. “Sustaining the Commons.” Arizona, US: Centre for the Study of Institutional Diversity.

Jodha, N. S. 1985. “Common Property Resources and Dynamics of Rural Poverty (Field Evidences from Dry Regions of India).” Nepal: International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). http://www.fao.org/3/v3960e/v3960e05.htm.

———. 1986. “Common Property Resources and Rural Poor in Dry Regions of India.” Economic and Political Weekly 21 (27): 1169–1181.

———. 1990. “Rural Common Property Resources: Contributions and Crisis.” Economic and Political Weekly 25 (26): A65–A78.

———. 1992. “Common Property Resources: a Missing Dimension of Development Strategies.” World Bank Discussion Paper 169, Washington D.C.: The World Bank.

———. 2000. “Waste Lands Management in India: Myths, Motives and Mechanisms.” Economic and Political Weekly 35 (6): 466–473.

Kaushik, G. and K. C. Sharma. 2015. “Climate Change and Rural Livelihoods: Adaptation and Vulnerability in Rajasthan.” Global NEST Journal 17: 41–47. https://doi.org/10.30955/gnj.001376.

Kumar, V. 2014. “Changing Agricultural Scenario and Food Prospects in India: A Study with Special Reference to Rajasthan.” Rohtak: M. D. University. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/handle/10603/107021.

Lesorogol, C. K. 2008. “Land Privatization and Pastoralist Well-Being in Kenya.” Development and Change 39 (2): 309–331. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.2007.00481.x.

Magrath, W. 1986. “The Challenge of the Commons: the Allocation of Non-Exclusive Resources.” Working Paper 14. Washington D.C.: The World Bank, Policy, Planning and Research Staff, Environment Department, World Resource Institute, 32–39.

Meinzen-Dick, R., H. Markelova and K. Moore. “The Role of Collective Action and Property Rights in Climate Change Strategies.” CGIAR CAPRi Policy Brief 7, Washington D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.

Mwagi, Esther and A. Wardell. 2012. “Multi-level Governance of Forest Resources”. International Journal of the Commons 6 (2): 79–103. https://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.374.

McGinnis, M. D. and E. Ostrom. 2014. “Social-Ecological System Framework: Initial Changes and Continuing Challenges.” Ecology and Society 19 (2): 30. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-06387-190230

Ostrom, E. 1988. “Workshop in Political Theory & Policy Analysis”. In Rethinking Institutional Analysis and Development: Issues, Alternatives, and Choices edited by V. Ostrom, D. Feeny, and H. Picht. San Francisco: ICS Press, 103–139.

———. 2007. “A Diagnostic Approach for Going Beyond Panaceas.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104 (39): 15181–15187. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0702288104.

——— 2009. “A General Framework for Analyzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems.” Science 325: 419–422. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1172133.

Preston, B. L. and M. Stafford-Smith. 2009. “Framing Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity Assessment: Discussion Paper.” Canberra: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Climate Adaptation Flagship Working Paper No. 2. http://www.csiro.au/org/ClimateAdaptationFlagship.html.

Rao, J., R. Chaturvedi, P. Priyadarshini, and K. Kumari. 2015. “Commoning the Commons: Mediating for Spaces in Public Policy.” 2015 World Bank Conference On Land And Poverty, Washington D.C., March 23–27. Gujarat: Foundation for Ecological Security.

Rathore, M. S. 2005. “State Level Analysis of Drought Policies And Impacts in Rajasthan, India.” Working paper 93, Drought Series Paper No. 6, Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute ( IWMI).

Rathore, N. S. and N. Verma. 2013. “Impact of Climate Change in Southern Rajasthan, India.” International Journal of Water Resources and Arid Environments 2 (1): 45–50.

Reddy, S. R. C. and S. P. Chakravarty. 1999. “Forest Dependence and Income Distribution in a Subsistence Economy: Evidence from India.” World Development 27 (7): 1141–1149. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(99)00057-1.

Thapliyal, S., A. Mukherji, and D. Malghan. 2019. “Economic Inequality and Loss of Commons: Evidence from India.” World Development 122: 693–712. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.06.012

Tompkins, E. L., W. N. Adger, E. Boyd, S. Nicholson-cole, K. Weatherhead, N. Arnell. 2010. “Observed Adaptation to Climate Change: UK Evidence of Transition to a Well-Adapted Society.” Global Environmental Change 20: 627–635. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.05.001.

Additional Files





Special Secion: The Commons: A Revisit