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 Center at the University, and leads the University’s Center for Climate Change and Sustainability. She is a Senior Research Associate at the Elinor and Vincent Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University, and a co-editor of Global Environmental Change. 

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: The Tree Book of Indian Cities” (Penguin, 2019) 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. 

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


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 and 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 2117.
  3. H. Nagendra (2018). The global south is rich in sustainability lessons. Nature 557: 485 – 488.
  4. H. Nagendra, X. Bai, E.S. Brondizio and S. Lwasa (2018). The urban south and the predicament of global sustainability. Nature Sustainability 1: 341 – 349.
  5. R. DeFries and H. Nagendra (2017). Ecosystem management as a wicked problem. Science 356: 265 – 270.