Past Event

The Decade of Restoration: What Lies Ahead for India’s Ecosystems

December 7, 2021
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
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The survival and health of diverse ecosystems is under severe threat globally. During the last century alone, India has lost almost 40% of its natural forests, 50% of its wetlands, and 50 % of its grasslands. In response to this worldwide crisis, the current decade (2021-2030) has been declared as the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.

Join Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai and IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management for an online panel discussion featuring experts who will address the critical challenges facing multiple ecosystems in India, and how international guidelines, and national policies and practices can shape a clear path for ecosystems restoration and biodiversity conservation in this critical period.

About the Speakers:


Dr. Shalini Dhyani is a Senior Scientist with the Critical Zone Group of Water Technology and Management Division in CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), India. She is the South Asia Regional Chair for IUCN CEM (Commission on Ecosystems Management) (2017-2024). She is IPBES Lead Author Global thematic assessment on Sustainable Use of Wild Species (2018-2022) and was lead author for IPBES Asia Pacific regional assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Asia Pacific (2015-2018).


Dr. Ritesh Kumar heads Wetlands International South Asia. Over the last two decades, Dr. Kumar has led integrated management planning for several wetlands in the South Asia region, and coordinated multidisciplinary projects on wetlands assessment, ecosystem services evaluation, water management, sustainable livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation. Dr. Kumar has been part of several policy-making processes related to wetlands in India, the key being a part of the drafting team of national regulation on wetlands, the National Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and indicators for Sustainable Development Goals. He advises several state governments on policy and management aspects of wetlands.


Dr. Nitin Pandit the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE) in Bangalore, India.  Previously he was the Director of Priority Initiatives at the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington, DC, USA, focusing on restoration and energy efficiency, after serving as the CEO of WRI India and leading WRI’s work in India. Before WRI, Nitin was President of the International Institute for Energy Conservation (IIEC), with offices and programs in a dozen countries, for implementing novel sustainable energy approaches for developing countries.


Ruth DeFries is a professor of ecology and sustainable development at Columbia University in New York and co-founding dean of the Columbia Climate School, 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 books 'The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis' and “What Would Nature Do?: A Guide for Our Uncertain Times”. 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.