Past Event

Re-wilding India: Role of the Private Sector in Biodiversity Conservation

April 20, 2021
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
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Biodiversity is one of the key planetary boundaries that is critical to the sustenance of life on Earth, but it has already been overstepped. Conservation efforts are needed to ‘re-wild’ or restore ecological spaces to maintain ecosystem balance as green areas serve as essential carbon sinks, filter polluted air and water, regenerate water resources, act as natural buffers against disasters, and provide habitats for key birds and pollinators.
The panel will showcase some cutting-edge private initiatives to conserve and develop green reserves, and offer recommendations for business leaders looking to engage in socially responsible ecological practices.

Welcome Remarks:
Ravina Aggarwal
Director, Columbia Global Centers | Mumbai

Keynote Address:
R. Mukundan
Managing Director and CEO, Tata Chemicals Ltd.

Opening Presentation:
Ruth DeFries
University Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University

Rishi Pathania
Head - Corporate Social Responsibility, United Phosphorus Ltd.

Hishmi Husain
Head - Biodiversity and Corporate Sustainability, Tata Steel

Tejashree Joshi
Head Environment Sustainability, Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd

Karen de Souza
Director, Shillim Institute

About the Speakers:

R. Mukundan

R. Mukundan is the Managing Director and CEO of Tata Chemicals. An engineer from IIT Roorkee, he joined the Tata Administrative Service in 1990, after completing his MBA from FMS, Delhi University. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. During his 26-year career with the Tata group, he has held various responsibilities across the chemical, automotive, and hospitality sectors of the group. He serves on executive committees of various industry forums viz the Confederation of Indian Industry, Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Employers' Federation of India, All India Management Association, etc.

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.

Hishmi Husain

Dr. Hishmi Jamil Husain is working with Tata Steel as the Head of Biodiversity and Corporate Sustainability. He is also  a Commission Member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), elected Fellow of The Linnean Society of London and life member of Club of Rome. In 2015 and 2016 he was awarded the Young Scientist, and the Environment Scientist award respectively. He is also a visiting faculty and a distinguished speaker in India and abroad. Dr. Hishmi has two books, several papers, and more than 160 articles to his credit. At Tata Steel he drives the biodiversity agenda for both species conservation and habitat restoration.

Rishi Pathania

Rishi Pathania is the Head of Corporate Social Responsibility for the UPL group. He has spent 23 years in the community development and conservation field, promoting CSR and sustainability programs. He has received many CSR/Sustainability Leadership awards. At UPL, he has been a key driver of the UPL Vasudha Initiative under which multiple nature conservation programs are being implemented.

Tejashree Joshi

Tejashree Joshi is the Head of Environment Sustainability at Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. At Godrej, she has been taking care of multiple programs like environmental compliances, Waste and Water Treatment and Management initiatives, and supporting green products and building certifications. She also drives biodiversity conservation and management, and along with her team, has been leading the work of biodiversity conservation at Pirojshahnagar.

Karen DeSouza

Karen de Souza studied international business management and economics in Brussels. Her interest in sustainability began nearly a decade ago with a growing interest in food. While working in Brussels with a renowned Michelin Star chef, she understood the relationship between sustainability and the production of quality ingredients. This realization led her to seek a deeper understanding of how to balance the impact of people on their environment. Karen subsequently worked on a project to restore native plant species in Southern California during a severe decade of drought. Karen has set up the Shillim Institute with a focus on research and project implementation in conservation, sustainability and healing. The Shillim Institute is nestled in the lush greenery of a forested wilderness of Shillim Valley, a mountain and forest area between Mumbai and Pune, and is privately managed by the De Souza family and their hospitality business.