Past Event

City of Haze, Gardens of Beauty: Reimagining Nature in Urban India

September 10, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
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Davis Auditorium, Room 412 (4th Floor), Schapiro Center, Columbia University, 530 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027, USA
Sunder Nursery

The city of New Delhi is ranked as the world’s most polluted national capital in terms of air quality.   Environmental pressures resulting from explosive urban expansion pose serious challenges for India’s ecological heritage and rich biodiversity. 

Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai invites you to an event featuring a presentation by the distinguished conservation architect, Ratish Nanda, who will share the story of the recent restoration of the 16th-century heritage park, Sunder Nursery, considered to be “New Delhi’s Central Park.”  Located in the heart of India’s capital, the site is significant for its Mughal monuments and its vast and experimental heritage of trees and plants.  Its conservation by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture marks a turning point for public parks in New Delhi and nature reserves in other urban areas. 

The presentation will be followed by a discussion on urbanization and green spaces moderated by Dr. Ravina Aggarwal and featuring Professor Ruth DeFries, who has worked extensively on land transformation and wildlife conservation in India. 

The event will also showcase the upcoming Urban Works Innovation Challenge Phase 2, a collaborative initiative between the Mumbai Center and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

This event is part of a 10-event series celebrating the Columbia Global Centers' 10th anniversary.  Click here to learn about the other events in this series.


About the Speakers
Ratish Nanda
Ratish Nanda

Ratish Nanda is a distinguished conservation architect and CEO of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in India.   Mr. Nanda heads multi-disciplinary teams which are presently undertaking two major urban conservation projects in India- the Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative in New Delhi and the Qutb Shahi Heritage Park Conservation in Hyderabad.  As a part of the Aga Khan Trust, he was also responsible for the Baghe Babur restoration (2002-2006), in Kabul, Afghanistan and the garden restoration of Humayun’s Tomb (1999-2003) in New Delhi.  Mr. Nanda has previously worked for Historic Scotland in Edinburgh and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s New Delhi Chapter.  He has served as an International Council on Monuments and Sites expert to missions in Iran, Turkey and Nepal; lectured in more than twenty countries; and authored over fifty articles and publications including,  ‘Delhi, the Built Heritage: A listing’ and ‘Rethinking Conservation: Humayun’s Tomb’.  His many awards include the Chishti India Harmony Award (2014), the Eisenhower Fellowship (2007), the Sanskriti Award for Social and Cultural Achievement (2004), the ‘Urban Hero’ title by Prince Claus Fund, Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship and the Charles Wallace Conservation Fellowship (1997).  Mr. Nanda studied architecture at the TVB School of Habitat Studies, New Delhi and holds a Masters in Conservation Studies from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York, England.

Ruth DeFries
Ruth DeFries

Ruth DeFries is Professor of Ecology and Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York, and Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai.  She uses images from satellites and field surveys to examine how the world’s demands for food and other resources are changing land use throughout the tropics.  Her research quantifies how these land use changes affect climate, biodiversity and other ecosystem services, as well as human development.  She was elected as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius award.  In addition to over 100 scientific papers, she is committed to communicating the nuances and complexities of sustainable development to popular audiences, most recently through her book 'The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.'  She is committed to linking science with policy, for example through her involvement with the Environmental Defense Fund, Science for Nature and People, World Wildlife Fund, and reconciling conservation and development in central India

Ravina Aggarwal
Ravina Aggarwal

Ravina Aggarwal has been the Director of the Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai since 2015.  She is a sociocultural anthropologist with a doctoral degree from Indiana University in 1994.  Dr. Aggarwal taught in the Department of Anthropology at Smith College, where she became a tenured faculty member.  Her research is based on extensive fieldwork in the Himalayas and her areas of study and teaching included political anthropology, peace-building, cultural studies, gender, and development. Prior to joining the Mumbai Center, Dr. Aggarwal worked at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office from 2007-2015, where she was responsible for strategic planning and grant-making for programs on development, social justice and public policy, with a focus on the fields of education, media and information technology, and arts and culture.  She serves on the Advisory Board of the Mumbai-based Urban Design Research Institute and is one of the two founders of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation. Dr. Aggarwal is the author of several publications, including Beyond Lines of Control: Performing the Border in Ladakh, India (Duke University Press, Seagull Books) and the editor of Into the High Ranges (Penguin India) and Forsaking Paradise (Katha).  She has recently completed Songbird (forthcoming Zubaan), a mystery novel for young adults set in the Himalayas.