Rural Futures: A Human Centric Framework for Community-based Conservation

4th edition of the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum 2017 began today with focus on Rural Future

Guwahati, 2nd November 2017: The much awaited 4th edition of the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum 2017 began today at the Vivanta By Taj, Guwahati. Ranjit Barthakur, Founder Trustee- Balipara Foundation opened the forum with his overview on Promises We Made: Revisiting Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum 2016.

The first session of the day was on Rural Futures For Catalysing Conservation Efforts Launch & Concepts; Designing Holistic Models for Human- Centric Community- based Conservation. The session was addressed by Saurav Malhotra, Balipara Foundation, India. He talked about Rural Future for catalysing conversation efforts and the way ahead and emphasised on use of a human centric design for conservation.

The first panel discussion of the day was on the topic of Rural Futures: Integrating Conservation & Livelihoods Carbon Negative Jobs for the Future. The session was chaired by Prof. Jianchu Xu, Kunming Institute of Botany, China and Dr. Sarala Khaling, ATREE, India. The speed talks for the session were delivered by Tshering Dorji Bhutia, ATREE, India; Robin Eastment, Balipara Foundation, India; Passang Lepcha, ATREE, India and Jigme Dorji, Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan. The session panellists were Scott McMahan, Atlanta Botanical Garden, USA. Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India, India. Dr. Sarmistha Das, Tezpur University, India; Dr. Peter E Mortimer, Kunming Institute of Botany, China; Shankar Venkateswaran, India; Dhurba Das, MASK, India and Mansi Parikh, Balipara Foundation, India. The session started with Dr. Jianchu Xu, Kunming Institute of Botany, China, in which he points out how human activities are becoming more anthropocentric, and in the same context China has emerged with artificial intelligence. Accessibility to resources has become uncertain and unequal for the whole population of the country. Dr. Sarala Khaling focused on the poverty rate in North Eastern region of India which is still high even after huge expenditure by the government. She emphasised on reducing poverty through socio- economic empowerment of people and proper distribution of resources should be the main agenda at this point of time.

The second panel discussion of the day was on Rural Futures: Forests & People - Community Forests Or Protected Forests?. The session was chaired by Dr. Anish Andheria, President, WCT, India. Speed talk were delivered by Lailani Fouad, Nature and Wildlife Association, France , Annesha Choudhury, ATREE, India , Urbashi Pradhan ,ATREE, India and Rangku Sangma, Forest Officer, Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, India. Panelists of the session were Varun Goswami, Wildlife Conservation Society, India , Dr Koyu Furusawa, Kokugakuin University, Japan; P.R. Marak, IFS, Govt. of Meghalaya, India , Dr Koji Suga, Kokugakuin University, Japan; Dr. Uma Shankar, NEHU, India, Rachna Yadav.Anish Andheria in his talk emphasised that ‘It is time for us to move towards working with communities and We should start respecting ecological timescapes. ‘Sikkim becomes the only state to increase forest cover,' says Urbashi Pradhan in her speech.

The following session was on RURAL FUTURES: NATURAL ASSETS & CAPITAL - Biodiversity Assets vs. Human Aspirations Complementing the Future of Economics with Mindfulness. The session was chaired by Hans Kare Flo, Tekna, Norway and Shankar Venkateswaran, India. Speed talk was delivered by Dr. Nilanjan Ghosh, WWF- India. Bittu Sahgal, Sanctuary Asia, India, , Dr Koyu Furusawa, Kokugakuin University, Japan, Dr. N.M. Ishwar, IUCN, India, Nikhil Pradhan, India , Dr. Narayan Sharma, Cotton University, Assam India , Alka Upadhyay, Tata Sustainability Group, India , Arpit Bhutani, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, India were the speakers of the session. 'Natural capital linkages with economic prosperity is very important for Tata Group to survive' said Alka Upadhyay in her address in the session.

The next session was on RURAL FUTURES: CONSERVATION & NATURE TOURISM OR CONSERVATION TOURISM? - Using Tourism to fuel conservation efforts and enhance public awareness . The focus of the session was on how tourism can be used to fuel conservation efforts and leveraging our rich natural heritage to generate alternate sources of revenue. The session was chaired by Bittu Sahgal, Sanctuary Asia, India and Dr. Sunita Pradhan, ATREE, India. Speed talk for the seesions were delivered by Harry Hakuei Kosato, La Ditta, Japan and Tenzing Bodosa, India. Panelists of the session were Belinda Wright, Wildlife Protection Society of India, India , Oken Tayeng, Aborcountry Travels & Expeditions, India, Devraj Barooah, ChaloHoppo, India and Merwyn Coutinho, Ride to Light, India.

The session on RURAL FUTURES: EDUCATION - The Classroom is Wild was focused on enhancing and exchanging practical and effective ideas for incorporating nature play and knowledge into our programs and curriculum. We will explore innovative models of education for sustainability through community-integrated entrepreneurial learning in a natural environment. Session was chaired by Prof. Dhruba Saikia, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India and Nimesh Ved, Samrakshan, India. Speed talk was delivered by Wangchu Bhutia, KTK- BELT, Nepal. Etsushi Tsuru, Asahi Shimbun, Japan , Chador Wangmo, Bhutan Institute of Himalayan Studies, Bhutan, Dr. B.K. Konwar, Tezpur University, India were part of the panel discussion.

Prokash Dutta, CESIPL, India and Prabir Banerjea, Balipara Foundation, India chaired the session on RURAL FUTURES: GREEN ENERGY & TECHNOLOGY - From Water to the Sun. The session addresses the topic of renewable energy and discuss remote and off grid energy solutioons and also way of converting waste matter to energy. Shankar Venkateswaran, India, Dr. B.K Konwar, Tezpur University, Assam, India and Dhiraj Kakati, APPL Foundation, India were the speakers of the session.

The following session was on RURAL FUTURES: WATER ACCESS -The Ground Water Conundrum. Dr. Shrinivas Badiger, ATREE, India and Rituraj Phukan, Walk for Water, India were the chairs of the session. Speed talk was delivered by Rinan Shah, ATREE, India and Francis Darlong, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India. Panelists of the session were Dr. Indira Khurana, India, who spoke about water as a human right Prokash Dutta, CESIPL, India and Sarat Chandra Das, Grameen Development & Finance Pvt. Ltd., India

The session on RURAL FUTURES: HEALTHCARE - Affordable Health Care for all in the Rural Eastern Himalayas was focused on making healthcare accessible & affordable for the rural communities & ensuring the availability of nutrition for children. The conversation dialogue was addressed by Dr. Vikram Jit Singh Chattwal, Mediassist, India and Dr. Purnananda Khaund, Chief Medical Officer, APPL, India

The final session of the day was on RURAL FUTURES: CLIMATE CHANGE - Climate Change in the Eastern Himalayan Biosphere. Speed of the session were delivered by Robbie Hart, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA | Manish Kumar, ATREE, India | Shweta Basnet, ATREE, India | Dr. Kushal K. Baruah, Tezpur University, India | Kamal N. Pandya, Globally Managed Services, India.

At the end of the day’s proceeding resolutions and outcomes of the discussion held throughout the day were pointed out.

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