New Delhi: A day-long workshop by TATA Trusts, ‘The Indian Collaborative for Applied Sustainable Solutions’ (ICASS) initiative brought together a diverse group of sustainability practitioners to address critical gaps in the science-policy-practice interface, ensuring effective sustainability implementation. Discussions were centred around 20 ICASS initiatives and case studies from the field, such as managing elephant recolonization in Madhya Pradesh, regenerating oak forests in Sikkim, and restoring riparian areas along the Narmada River basin. These efforts, along with the landscape level management of the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area and promotion of green urban infrastructure, aimed to provide prompt, robust solutions to policy and practice challenges in sustainability.
ICASS, with Tata Trusts’ backing, fosters collaboration among scientists, practitioners, and policymakers to bridge the Science, Policy, and Practice gap and further encourage engagement, co-production, innovation, and capacity building. The initial phase of ICASS, generously supported by Tata Trusts, showcased its substantial potential in the country, with 100+ experts from TNC and partner organizations dedicating over two years to gathering evidence through Working Groups and field pilots for potential solutions.
Inaugurating the workshop, Dr Annapurna Vancheswaran, Managing Director, TNCC said, “Policy framing has always been a complex issue influencing efficient management of the limited resources to achieve effective results.”
She further added, “Evidence-based policy framing to address climate change challenges and the sustainable development goals cannot be underestimated. The more robust the scientific evidence, the stronger will be the policies necessary to optimise resources and achieve results. Robust scientific evidence is one that goes beyond the scientific theory to the applied evidence tested thoroughly on the ground in varying contexts of time, situations, geographical areas, demography, climatic conditions, and other factors.”
Among those who attended the inaugural session and launched the policy briefs included Prof R. Sukumar, Honorary Professor at the Centre of Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science; Subramanian Ramadori, Chairman Karmayogi Bharat and former CEO&MD, Tata Consultancy Services; RR Rashmi, IAS (retd) and Distinguished Fellow in the Centre for Global Environmental Research in TERI and Dr Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives, a member on numerous national and international Think Tanks in the environment sector. The policy briefs contained the findings and recommendations from these case studies for further uptake by the government and practitioners.
Dr Ashok Khosla, in his keynote address elucidated on “the importance of calculating the impact of the proposed sustainable solutions mathematically as well as socially, including gender parity in environmental sustainability.”
During the inaugural session, Prof R. Sukumar pointed out the dynamics of the policy landscape; Subramanian Ramadorai restated that science is a continuum and highlighted the importance of capacity building; RR Rashmi expressed that policy making though based in scientific data is guided by social, economic, and political factors.
Amitanshu Choudhary from the TATA Trusts appreciated the launch of the 10 policy briefs and went on to express how his organisation was happy to support such endeavours of TNC.
While delivering the closing remarks, Dr Sushil Saigal, Director of Programs at TNC, informed the gathering that the ICASS initiative will be continued through a Secretariat as well as an Advisory Group consisting of leading universities working on sustainability issues.
The workshop was graced by a wide range of professionals from diverse sectors. The representation from government departments included Dr Deep Narayan Pandey, former Head of Forest Force, Rajasthan Forest Department; Dr Sanjeeva Pandey, Forestry Advisor, Forest Plus; Mr Chitaranjan Tyagi, IFS (retd); Dr Devendra Pandey, former Director General, Survey of India; Dr N Krishna Kumar, Director, IFGTB; Dr Neelkamal Darbari, IAS (retd.), former Managing Director of Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium and Dr Kalpana Khurana, Commissioner – Landscape, Delhi Development Authority. Jayant Sarnaik, Nature Connect India Pvt Ltd, Dr Yashveen Bhatnagar from IUCN; Dr Purnamita Dasgupta, Chair Professor and Head at Environmental and Resource Economics Unit at IEG; Dr Sanjib Sarangi, Chief Fundraising and Partnerships Officer, Indian Grameen Services; Dr Anita Varghese, Director, Keystone Foundation; Prof Ashish Aggarwal from IIM Lucknow; and Mr Amit Kumar, Partner at Ernst and Young, represented the senior leadership from NGOs and government advisory firms.