Guwahati: Balipara Foundation launched its first Global Governing Council on Wednesday, for catalysing an ecological revolution in the Eastern Himalayan region.
With members from over six countries, the council brought together eminent personalities such as S. Ramadorai, TISS Governing Council; Dr. Vandana Shiva, Navdanya; Manoj Badale, Blenheim Chalcot, UK; Prof. Rama Bijapurkar, IIM-Ahmedabad; Julie Stein, Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, USA & Hasina Kharbhih, Impulse NGO Network to discuss the way forward for the Balipara Foundation, as it seeks to create 100 million natural assets across the Eastern Himalayas by 2030.
Welcoming partners and members to the first digital Governing Council Meet, founder trustee and president of Balipara Foundation, Ranjit Barthakur introduced the key addressing speakers Lord Nicholas Stern and Paul Polman.
Chair of Grantham Research Institute, London School of Economics, Lord Nicholas Stern is a leading academic, economist and a global leader for action on climate, instrumental in the proceedings for the upcoming COP26 on climate to be held in Glasgow (2021). Co-founder and chair of Imagine Foundation, Paul Polman is the former CEO of Hindustan Unilever, where he spearheaded the organisation’s pioneering transition to a sustainable business ethic, and is now one of the leading figures in the Business for Nature movement.
Opening with a talk on the role of nature-based solutions and the role businesses can play in restoring ecosystems; Polman addressed the global pandemic crisis and opined that if we rely on natural assets in a sustainable way we can develop resilient economies, healthy societies and healthy ecosystems across the world. “COVID-19 is clearly showing us inter dependency in economies and bringing light to what we should do in a right way,” he said.
He was followed by Stern, who focused on the need to invest in natural capital for long term solutions to climate change that can create job opportunities for unemployed youths, also potentially can eradicate poverty at the grassroots. He especially highlighted the need to measure the value of the natural ecosystems we are losing on a daily basis. “If we don’t measure things we don’t treasure things,” he added.
Aiming to create over 100 million natural assets by 2030, the Balipara Foundation visualises a paradigm shift from business as usual in an industrial focused economy, towards a nature-centred economy. Building on the global momentum for nature-based solutions, the Foundation projects that the natural capital value of these new assets could be in the range of INR 1000 crores over a 10 year period. Through its Rural Futures framework, which puts communities’ front and center in all ecological action, would yield an estimated 160% increase in incomes for indigenous communities in the Northeast and across the Eastern Himalayan region. With the reinvestment of these earnings, the foundation visualises a future of autonomous nature-based delivery of universal basic assets such as healthcare, education, energy and access to water.
Other dignitaries and member of the Governing Council namely, Senior Fellow, Bay of Bengal Institute Project, ambassador Tariq Karim; ATREE founder, Dr Kamal Bawa and food sovereignty activist, Dr Vandana Shiva shared their thoughts on the Balipara Foundation’s 100 million natural asset plan, zeroing in on the need for cross-border collaborations to achieve meaningful ecological restoration. “Digital cross-border collaborations are what we must look into at this time,” said S. Ramadorai.
The Global Governing Council will play a critical role in driving international interest in the Eastern Himalayan region, to foster investments, partnerships and networks for human-centric and community-led restoration of critical ecological corridors, in line with the Balipara Foundation’s NaturenomicsTM vision for economy and ecology in interdependence. The Balipara Foundation invites all its stakeholders to join hands in shaping a new roadmap for growth, development and nature in a way that it envisions to endorse a sustainable way of living and develop resilient economies across the globe, especially in the Eastern Himalayas.