Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Sunita Narain


From forestry to productive forestry

My position on the need to re-position forests in development (see ‘Rethink growth with forest capital’, Down To Earth, May 16-31) has brought me a huge response. On the one hand are those who argue that functions of forests already include conservation vital to life; they need to be valued and protected. The unsaid (and often stressed) corollary is that any discussion on the need to improve productivity of forests through the involvement of people needs to be shunned. The stretched and simplistic positioning of this view is that forests and people cannot go together.

Rethink growth with forest capital

Can you love tigers but hate forests? This is the question that troubled me as I visited the middle of India last fortnight. I was in Nagpur, where local politicians, conservationists and officials were discussing what needed to be done in this chronically poor and backward region endowed with forests and tiger habitats.

Shifting sands of (mal) development

We were on a beach. Somewhere close to Puducherry. The sight was surreal: half-smashed houses with wide open fronts, people still living in them. The devastation was caused not by a sea storm or a cyclone, but by the eroded beach. The sea had crept up to the village; there was no protection between the sea and the village.

Inaction discourages positive change in industry

It was in early 2008 that my colleagues at the Centre for Science and Environment had tested household paints for lead content.

Corruption: missing the woods for the trees

24.2.91
The Anil Agarwal Reader

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Front Page Teaser: 

IN OUR class-ridden society who cares for an ex-army jeep driver? And yet Kishan Baburao Hazare, now so fondly called Anna Hazare, has emerged as one of India’s leading environmental warriors...

Connected events and difficult future

Two major events happening at two ends of the world—Japan’s natural disaster and nuclear fallout and unrest in Libya and other countries of the region—have one thing in common. Energy. The fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, hit by earthquake and then the tsunami, has not yet been contained. As I write this, news is breaking about possible contamination of the seawater surrounding the damaged installation. Fears are it could lead to groundwater contamination and radioactive toxins in the food and fish. Last week there was a scare when Tokyo’s water was reported to have iodine 131 in excess of safe limits. Nobody really knows how badly the core of the reactor is damaged. Nobody’s clear how Fukushima’s problems will be buried.

Think differently, Mr Finance Minister

As I write this piece, the finance minister has dispatched the Union Budget 2011. The press is busy reflecting the views of business and industry lobbies, as they quibble over duty exemptions, insist on financial stimulus and other incentives, and cry for big-ticket reform—foreign direct investment in retail and insurance. The only other discussion is about the growing fiscal deficit: will the finance minister give in to populism while extending the programmes for the poor? Or will he raise taxes to pay for the growing developmental needs of the country? The finance minister, it would seem, is caught between two battles: of checking the bulge in fiscal irresponsibility and of meeting the need for delivering governance.

Fatal disconnect

The World Economic Forum—the gathering of power glitterati each year in Davos—has assessed the top risks the world faces in 2011. According to this analysis, climate change is the highest-ranking risk the world will face in the coming years, when its likelihood and impact are combined. What’s even more important is the interconnections between climate change and the other top risks: economic disparity (ranked 3), extreme weather events (ranked 5), extreme energy price volatility (ranked 6), geopolitical conflict (ranked 7), flooding and water security (9 and 10). The world—even according to the richest men—is in deep and desperate trouble.

2008 K R Narayanan Oration Why environment needs equity: Learning from the environmentalism of the poor to build our common future

Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi I am honoured to deliver the 12th K R Narayanan Oration 2008. It is a special occasion because our former President K R Narayanan was a very special person. Most of us, who knew President K R Narayanan, will remember him as an erudite, compassionate, thoughtful politician, who knew his mind and stood by his beliefs. We will remember him for his integrity and for his intellectual might.

Climate Change: The challenge and opportunity for our world

Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.
Speech delivered at Asian University for Women Symposium: Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change, held at Dhaka, Bangladesh on January 21-22, 2011.

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