Director General, Centre for Science and Environment

Sunita Narain is the director general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi, India. She has been with CSE since 1982 and also serves as editor of the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth.

She is a writer and environmentalist, who uses knowledge for change. In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government. She has also received the World Water Prize for work on rainwater harvesting and for its policy influence in building paradigms for community-based water management. In 2005, she also chaired the Tiger Task Force at the direction of the Prime Minister, to evolve an action plan for conservation in the country after the loss of tigers in Sariska. She advocated solutions to build a coexistence agenda with local communities so that benefits of conservation could be shared and the future secured. Narain was a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Climate Change as well as the National Ganga River Basin Authority.

Narain began her work in the early 1980s, as a co-researcher with Anil Agarwal, an eminent and committed environmentalist who gave the country its environmental concern and message. In 1985, she co-edited the State of India’s Environment report, which explored the nexus of environment and development, particularly among India’s poor. In 1989, learning from successful local initiatives to address environmental concerns, she co-authored “Towards Green Villages” with Anil Agarwal, which advocated local participatory democracy as the key to sustainable development. Narain has continued to research and write about how environment must become the basis of livelihood security in the country. She has also linked issues of local democracy with global democracy, arguing that every human is entitled to the global atmospheric common. In 2012, she authored the Seventh State of India’s Environment Reports, Excreta Matters, which presents a comprehensive analysis of urban India’s water and pollution challenges.

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