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Rabindranath Barthakur Memorial Lecture 2018


Rabindranath Barthakur Memorial Lecture -Dr. Kamaljit Singh Bawa, ATREE at BFA2018

At the 6th Balipara Foundation Awards, 2018, Dr. Kamaljit Singh Bawa, an evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist, delivered the 6th Rabindranath Barthakur Memorial Lecture and elaborated on the value of biodiversity for sustainable development.

India has tremendous amount of biodiversity. Almost 8% of global biodiversity is within the country. It is a very important center of origin of many crops, which sustains billions of people around the world.  There are many figures about the value of this biodiversity. Madhu Verma, an environmental economist, values it at 128 trillion Indian rupees, which is the same as the size of our GDP on an annual basis. This is what the natural capital is giving us, and we don’t even take it into account following certain developmental path ways or the carbon footprint of the things we do every day in our lives. Which is further deteriorating this natural capital. Sadly, India is among the countries that have the highest rate of land conversion, highest rate in decline of animal and plant populations and among the countries with the highest footprint on earth. And pushes forward a need to assess our investment in this natural capital.

In order to assess and protect the North East India’s biodiversity, the Biodiversity Audit programme, which is an outcome of the Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum and has Balipara Foundation as a key partner, has brought together 11 institutions 13 investigators supported by the government of India. The programme, which will be steered by local institutions in North East has 4 critical components-

  • A very systematic survey of biodiversity in North East
  • Assessing the economic value of the eco system services and the biodiversity of the North East area,
  • Outline sustainable use of biodiversity and capacity building and
  • Engaging civil society and developing citizen science

The Biodiversity Audit is being further strengthened by a concept note for a National Mission on biodiversity, being reviewed by the council for science technology and innovation, which will involve a range of all organizations, in almost all parts of the country and will also allow us to strengthen the programme in the North East. It will explore at a national level, 6 major components, which are linked to 1 particular aspect of human wellbeing and further linked to a particular sustainable development goal.

  • The major component, cataloging and mapping biodiversity. Mapping life of India - in great detail that life includes cultures, traditions, ethnic growths
  • Components related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, biodiversity and agriculture production, biodiversity and climate change and disaster risk management.
  • Biodiversity and economy and biodiversity and policies management and societal engagement

The cataloging and mapping components are the center piece of the programme, which will be leveraged by using digital tools, artificial intelligence, available data, new data from the field in a manner it has not been done before. This will yield critical analysis and information that will form the basis of our action on the ground and further enhance our current actions and solutions leading the way forward towards sustainable futures in the Eastern Himalayas.

Dr Bawa emphasized on collaboration of people, co-design, co-implementation and co-determination of outcome, (which is also emerging a major theme in sustainability science), and the spirit of hopefulness and positive attitudes for a successful.


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