The climate crisis is not an abstract challenge for the future. Its impacts on the world are visibly and starkly clear, and already present. With its rich natural resources, large population at risk, and significant potential for future growth, India must find a way to address the challenges of climate change without sacrificing its human development goals.
There is no single solution or silver bullet. We hope to focus on climate change interconnections with sustainability and social justice to forge more effective responses to the climate emergency.
Our work includes research, education and practical applications. We work in diverse ecosystems, locations and geographies across India. Our major focus is on cities which face the most difficult challenges but also give us opportunities for intervention.
100 Cities Mapping Project
India is on the fast track to urbanisation. Cities and their buildings are expanding into green spaces, wetlands, river, lakes, grasslands and forests in India. This has caused environmental problems, and those problems that existed have become worse, from air pollution to biodiversity loss and climate change. We need much better information on the growth of Indian cities. Satellite remote sensing provides a useful way to get such information. We use Google Earth Engine to develop semi-automated approaches to map the growth of India’s 100 largest cities over a period of 15 years, examining the impact of urban growth on the loss of water bodies, tree cover and open areas.
Trees in Indian cities
Trees are one of the first casualties of development in Indian cities. They are cut down for flyovers, underpasses, high speed roads, metros, building construction, and to make way for advertisement boards. Trees are of great importance as commons. They provide shade and sukoon for street vendors. They reduce air pollution and heat island effects. They help new migrants forge connections to cities through an imaginative process of environmental placemaking. Our research has been used in submissions to Indian courts by planners and policy makers, and has helped inform urban environmental movements against tree felling.
A major challenge for climate planning is the lack of downscaled, location-specific, near-time climate forecasts that can help local area planners, media and civil society understand the challenges of climate planning. We are working to develop district-level climate forecasts for near-future and medium-future time periods, which can help feed into local policies for climate adaptation and resilience.
Nature Writing for Children
Nature in our Cities
Rethinking inclusivity and justice agendas in restoration of urban ecological commons: A case study of Bangalore lakes
The present study analyses civic and community-based initiatives in conserving urban ecological commons in India, which have been increasingly polluted, encroached upon and degraded because of rapid land-use transformations. Bangalore, a city in south India, has one of the largest networks of manmade lakes, some…
Chapter in a Book
Resilience and conservation of urban commons: Lessons from three community-restored lakes in Bengaluru
This chapter discusses collective and multiactor interventions by local communities in Bengaluru, in conserving urban ecological commons — specifically, urban lakes — which provides a range of services to residents, as well as protecting the overall resilience of the city. Bengaluru, which once had an agrarian ecological landscape nourished…
Chapter in a Book
A new imagination for waste and water in India’s peri-urban interface
Cities are often seen as incubators for enterprise and innovation. However, in this urbanisation era, we seem to suffer from a lack of imagination on how to handle the many environmental problems associated with expanding cities. This is especially true in the case of the…
Where have all our gunda thopes gone?
India is rapidly urbanising, but our cities are facing an environmental crisis. Whenever there is any development, for building a road, a flyover or a metro, the first casualties are trees. This story is our attempt to communicate the work we have done on gunda…
नेचर राइटिंग फॉर चिल्ड्रेन: ये सारा उजाला सूरज का
इस महीने के वेबिनार में हमारे साथ जुड़ रहे हैं, जाने-माने लेखक संपादक सुशील शुक्ल जो अपनी रचना ये सारा उजाला सूरज का, हमारे साथ साझा करेंगे।
Nature in Our Cities: Bats Around Us
Know more about bats that abound around us, including the wonderful Flying Foxes.
Call for Internship Proposals
Forests of Life | Our Nature Awareness Series
Inviting students and young professionals from various geographies of India. Selected interns will be eligible for a three-month paid internship programme.
Join us for a conversation with Akshay Manwani, author of the children's book The Tiger, The Bear and the Battle for Mahovann, as we discuss his book and the genre of nature writing for children.
The talk by Mahesh Rangarajan, faculty member, Ashoka University, will be followed by a Q&A session moderated by Harini Nagendra, faculty member, Azim Premji University.
Using knowledge-sharing exercises on rivers amongst urban children, we hope to create more awareness amongst the next generation of citizens.
Book review | At the feet of living things: Twenty five years of wildlife research and conservation in India
This is a must-read book for anyone interested in understanding the day-to-day complexities, frustrations and joys of working on wildlife conservation, writes Harini Nagendra, faculty member, Azim Premji University, in The Hindu BusinessLine.
A New Year resolution for the environment
Harini Nagendra, faculty member, Azim Premji University, in Deccan Herald, conducts a retrospective look back at the year that was — just as essential as New Year resolutions for the year. What did we do to the state of the environment in 2022?
Climate change: How the young will show us the way
If there is hope, it is with the next generation, who are not afraid to question our most basic assumptions about development, growth, and the environment, writes Harini Nagendra, Faculty member, Azim Premji University, in Deccan Herald.
How narratives of river-human entanglement can open up new ways in the study of life, in river landscapes
Namrata Sharma, student intern, Azim Premji University, in Guwahati Times, highlights how people from the Miyah community, living in the flood-prone regions of Assam, have devised various ways to adapt to the instability of rivers—a lifestyle as fluid as the Brahmaputra.
Indiscriminate mining is choking parts of the Teesta and Rongyong in Sikkim, writes Pema Yangden, a student intern at Azim Premji University, in Sikkim Chronicle.
More than 300 persons worked for six months to create and curate the event, says Kunal Sharma, Faculty member, Azim Premji University, in conversation with Chiranjeevi Kulkarni, in Deccan Herald.
Apart from Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Cauvery rivers, the Rivers of Life festival has also captured details of lesser-known but equally important rivers such as Ayad (Udaipur, Rajasthan), Arpa (Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh) and Khad (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh).
Listen to the podcast by Harini Nagendra, Faculty, Azim Premji University, in The Swaddle, on re-imagining environmental sustainability, reframing the development versus environment binary, and creating more equal cities by fostering urban commons.
Terms like ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ hardly reverberate in the sound-proof halls of Parliament. While there is a global crisis unfolding that is set to permanently shift the course of human history, most parliamentarians seem blissfully ignorant of it, writes Shashwat D C in Moneycontrol.