Harini Nagendra

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Urban Ecology and Sustainability
  • Land Change Science
  • Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation
  • Forest Conservation
  • Collective Action and Commons Research
  • Sustainability Education for the Global South
  • Ecology and Development


Harini Nagendra is Director of Research Centre at the University, and leads the University’s Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability.

Over the past 25 years, Harini has been at the leading edge of research — examining conservation in forests and cities of South Asia from the perspective of both landscape ecology and social justice. For her interdisciplinary research and practice, she has received many awards including the 2009 Cozzarelli Prize from the US National Academy of Sciences, the 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award, and the 2017 Clarivate Web of Science award. 

Her publications include the books Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Cities and Canopies: Trees of Indian Cities” (Penguin, 2019, with Seema Mundoli) as well as over 150 research publications including recent papers in Nature, Nature Sustainability, and Science. 

She writes a monthly column The Green Goblin in the Deccan Herald newspaper, and is a well-known public speaker and writer on issues of urban sustainability in India. She is also an associate editor of the journal Global Environmental Change.

Harini has been a Lead Author on the IPCC AR5 reports, and a past Science Committee member of DIVERSITAS and the Global Land Programme. She engages with international science and policy through her involvement as a Steering Committee member of the Future Earth Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society, and the Future Earth Urban Knowledge Advisory Network. 

She is on the Advisory Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Climate-KIC, the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, and the Earth Leadership Program (formerly the Leopold Leadership Program).

Certificate Courses

Publications and Writings


  • H. Nagendra & S. Mundoli (2019). Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities. Penguin India, Delhi.
  • H. Nagendra (2016). Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present, and Future. Oxford University Press, Delhi. 
  • H. Nagendra & J. Southworth (Eds.) (2010). Reforesting Landscapes: Pattern and Process. Springer Landscape Series, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Recent Conference Keynote Lectures

  1. Urban Sustainability: A Global South Perspective. The McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative Research Symposium, McGill University/​online, November 9 2020
  2. Landscape ecology in a changing climate: Science, society, action. Opening plenary, International Association of Landscape Ecology 2019, Milan, July 1 2019.
  3. Resilience and sustainability. Closing keynote panel at Resilience 2017, Stockholm, August 23 2017.
  4. Sustainability in an urbanizing world: The role of people. Keynote at Global Land Project Open Science Meeting 2016, Beijing, October 24 2016.
  5. Urbanization: a new frontier for conservation. Keynote at Conservation Asia 2016, Singapore, July 1 2016

Selected Journal Articles

  1. X. Bai, H. Nagendra, P. Shi & H. Liu (2020). Cities: build networks and share plans to emerge stronger from COVID-19. Nature, 584, 517 – 520.
  2. H. Nagendra (2020). Ecologically smart cities. One Earth Voices, 2, 117.
  3. H. Nagendra (2018). The global south is rich in sustainability lessons. Nature, 557, 485 – 488.
  4. H. Nagendra, X. Bai, E.S. Brondizio & S. Lwasa (2018). The urban south and the predicament of global sustainability. Nature Sustainability, 1, 341 – 349.
  5. R. DeFries & H. Nagendra (2017). Ecosystem management as a wicked problem. Science, 356, 265 – 270.
  6. H. Unnikrishnan & H. Nagendra (2021). Building climate resilient
    cities in the global South: assessing city adaptation plans in India. The Round Table, 110, 575 – 586.