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Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain is an Indian environmentalist and political activist as well as a major proponent of the Green concept of sustainable development. Narain has been with the India-based Centre for Science and Environment since 1982. She is currently the director of the Centre and the director of the Society for Environmental Communications and publisher of the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth.

In her years at the Centre, she has worked hard at analysing and studying the relationship between environment and development and at creating public consciousness about the need for sustainable development. Over the years, she has also developed the management and financial support systems needed for the institution, which has over 100 staff members and a dynamic program profile. She is currently in charge of the Centre's management and plays an active role in a number of research projects and public campaigns. [1]



She began her career by writing and researching for the State of India's Environment reports and then went on to study issues related to forest management. For this project she traveled across the country to understand people's management of natural resources. In the early 1990s she got involved with global environmental issues and she continues to work on these as researcher and advocate.Her research interests are wide-ranging - from global democracy, with a special focus on climate change, to the need for local democracy, within which she has worked both on forest-related resource management and water-related issues. Narain remains an active participant, both nationally and internationally, in civil society. [1]

She serves on the boards of various organisations and on governmental committees and has spoken at many forums across the world on issues of her concern and expertise. In 2008 Narain delivered the K R Narayanan Oration[2] on "Why Environmentalism Needs Equity: Learning from the environmentalism of the poor to build our common future".[3]


  • In 1989 Sunita co-authored the publication Towards Green Villages advocating local participatory democracy as the key to sustainable development.
  • In 1991 she co-authored the publication Global Warming in an Unequal World: A case of environmental colonialism
  • In 1992 she co authored Towards a Green World: Should environmental management be built on legal conventions or human rights?
  • Since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, she has worked on a number of articles and papers on issues related to flexibility mechanisms and the need for equity and entitlements in climate negotiations.
  • In 2000, she co-edited the publication Green Politics: Global Environmental Negotiations[4], which looks at the emerging ecological globalisation framework and puts forward an agenda for the South on global negotiations.
  • In 1997, pushing the concern for water harvesting, she co-edited the book Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall and Potential of India's Water Harvesting Systems[5].
  • Since then, she has worked on a number of articles on the policy interventions needed for ecoregeneration of India’s rural environment and poverty reduction.
  • In 1999, she co-edited the State of India’s Environment, The Citizens' Fifth Report
  • and in 2001, Making Water Everybody’s Business: the practice and policy of water harvesting[6].


In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India[1].


  1. ^ a b c Sunitaji's Bio Data
  2. ^ 2008 K R Narayanan Oration, The Australian National University, Canberra, 16 September 2008
  3. ^ Environmentalism and Equity, report on the oration, September 16, 2008
  4. ^ Green Politics: Global Environmental Negotiations, Anil; Sunita Narain, Anju Sharma, Centre for Science and Environment (1999)
  5. ^ Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall and Potential of India's Traditional Water Harvesting Systems, (State of India's Environment, Volume 4), Anil Agarwal, Sunita Narain, Centre for Science and Environment (1997)
  6. ^ Cited in The No-Nonsense Guide to International Development, Maggie Black, New Internationalist (October 1, 2007)

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