(Clockwise from top left) Saurav Malhotra, Balipara Foundation; Rita Banerji, Green Hub; Pradeep Banerjee, Advisor Uni lever; and Anish Andheria, WCT; in a discussion Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: The Balipara Foundation has completed the first of its Naturenomics Dialogues (webinars) from June 5 to June 13. It is a digital offshoot of the annual Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum which is hosted every year with the series ‘Ushering in the Ecological Revolution.’

Over eight days, speakers such as Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Shyam Saran (Center for Policy Research), Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, Gautam Mukhopadhaya, Dasho Paljor Dorji (government of Bhutan), Ashok Khosla (Development Alternatives) and S Ramadorai explored solutions and recommendations for the Northeast. The webinars discussed on burning topics of incorporating nature-based solutions through forest restoration and making conservation aspirational for young people in rural spaces.

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With the rising environmental and biodiversity concerns right in the present scenario, dialogues and discussions such as these help us understand what the ground reality is. These sessions also give us the weapon of knowledge and the technical know-how to mitigate any ecological concerns, be it in the present or future.

The sessions also brushed on topics such as technology ownership among communities for collaborative conservation; integrating biodiversity, climate & health policy; moving towards qualitative development indicators that also include ecological parameters; and the need for businesses to move from “CSR” mind-sets to environmental and social responsibility thinking.

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In seven sessions, with over 30 speakers, they debated the future of the Eastern Himalayas, and the unprecedented opportunity the region has to transition to a new economic model that centres the environment and creates resilient local communities.

The series also highlighted the need to create economic and financial independence for rural women, to enhance their voices and decision-making power, particularly in designing conservation interventions. Some of the critical solutions proposed to this were stronger land rights for rural women, enhancing opportunities through better market access, nurturing local demand and markets, and fostering entrepreneurship.

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The Naturenomics Dialogues will return next month, to explore new themes and questions, some raised over these sessions, for creating Rural Futures in the Eastern Himalayas. The series is part of a larger initiative to pivot the Balipara Foundation’s flagship program of international dialogues and forums, the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics Forum, to be held on November 3 and 4 this year, to meet the challenges of the “new normal” through digitisation.

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