COP26 and the Brahmaputra
A New Perspective Based on the Underwater Domain
Awareness (UDA) Framework – 02/06

About Event

The river Brahmaputra has played a critical role in shaping the culture, heritage and economy of Assam. There is potential for more and it is essential that we build capabilities and capacities for a safe, secure and sustainable growth of the region with optimum utilization of the resources in the river.
- The ‘safe’ addresses the disaster management efforts originating from the river – it could mean prevention and post event rehabilitation.
- The ‘secure’ address the security concerns that may originate from the river or even endanger assets in the river. The volatile security situation in the region does demand fresh initiatives that are able to address the concerns.
- The ‘sustainable growth’ pertains to economic growth with minimal degradation to the river flora and fauna.
The river ecosystem particularly in the tropical regions represents significant bio- diversity with rich source of food and other resources. The sustainable growth model will require substantial efforts in ensuring minimal degradation of the river ecosystem. The river species including the river dolphins use sound or acoustic signals for multiple biologically critical functions like communication, navigation, foraging, breeding, etc. Thus, the acoustic habitat plays a critical role in their wellbeing and population abundance. There are innumerable dimensions of human interaction with these freshwater bodies. The growing human interventions can limit our usage of this critical resource and make us extremely vulnerable. The usage apart from domestic consumption can range from navigable waters for river transport, hydropower generation, exploitation of the living & non-living resources, climate control, wellbeing of the local flora & fauna, disaster management and more. The river provides a vital source of livelihood and economic prosperity to the region and also poses a great challenge to human life, flora & fauna, due to floods and erosion disasters. At present, the consumptive use of the river waters is at a minimum stage. However, the annual yield of the basin forms almost 30% of the annual water resources of the country. Thereby the basin has a great importance in supporting the water & energy security of the country.
The COP26 dialogues have brought out the critical role of the renewable energy sources in mitigating the climate change by substitution of fossil fuels for energy generation. Brahmaputra basin is the single greatest source of renewable energy to the extent of 40,000 MW and the same forms a very vital part of INDC goals committed by the nation to the world. Impacts on these resources also needs to be carefully evaluated and provided for. Moreover, Bangladesh is also critically short of renewable energy sources and will have to be supported by India for their wellbeing. Brahmaputra developments are important in this regard also. The Underwater Domain Awareness (UDA) is extremely critical for effective governance at all levels. There are multiple mega initiatives from the Government of India (GoI) today to enhance our growth and prosperity, however the sustainability remains a concern. A high-technology infrastructure needs to be put in place that can monitor the entire situation in real-time and provide the decision makers actionable inputs on a tactical and strategic level. Right from the policy & technology interventions as well as capacity & capability building to manage such a high-technology systems will require substantial understanding and strategic vision. Organizational structure and interaction among the government and private players need to be planned to facilitate effective governance mechanism. Pooling of resources and synergizing of efforts across stakeholders, with high deployment of Science & Technology (S&T) tools, is the key to success. The COP26 summit has once again drawn attention of the entire global community to sustainable growth models and the climate change concerns. The Brahmaputra with its unique characteristics is a good case study to build on such sustainable development models.

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    The Maritime Research Center (MRC), Pune is a not-for-profit, Section 8 company registered with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), as Foundation for Underwater Domain Awareness.

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    The conventional approach of each of the stakeholders pursuing their own UDA* efforts has serious limitations given the highly resource intensive field experimental research initiative required for a long period. Click here for more