I. Natural capital approaches in India


Bhaskar Vira

Trained as an economist, Bhaskar’s research is concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need for scholarship to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices. His work brings a critical political economy perspective to contemporary debates in relation to ecosystem services and natural capital, and the values of nature for human wellbeing. He focuses on the ways in which large-scale economic, societal and environmental transformations are governed, the values that frame how human societies engage with each other and with nature, and the networks of formal and informal institutions that are intertwined in everyday decision making across a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

Seema Paul

Managing Director, India
The Nature Conservancy

Seema Paul is Managing Director for the India Program and leads all aspects of TNC’s entry into India. She has had a dedicated career in the field of environment, working across philanthropies, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and the media. She has lived and worked in India, Europe and the United States. She has led global programs— including the biodiversity program at Ted
Turner’s UN Foundation—and managed program portfolios totaling more than $120 million over her career. Before coming to The Nature Conservancy, she was Vice President at Climate Works Foundation and Founder-CEO of Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing climate mitigation in India. She is a citizen of India and a Permanent Resident of the United States. She currently serves on the boards of Clean Air Task Force, a US-based global NGO dedicated to promoting pragmatic approaches to achieving a zero carbon world that recognize the need of developing countries to grow. She is also a board member of Ashoka Trust for Research in Environment and Ecology, a globally ranked Indian nonprofit working on conservation. In the past, Seema has served on the boards of Millennium Ecosystems Assessment, Walt Disney Conservation Fund and Exxon Mobil Save the Tiger Fund.

Madhu Verma

Qualifications: Dr.(Mrs.) Madhu Verma is Professor of  Environment & Developmental Economics & Coordinator of Centre for Ecological Services Management, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, India. She is a Graduate in Biological Sciences & Post Graduate, M.Phil and Ph.D in  Economics from Bhopal University & has done her Post Doctoral Research work the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and at the University of California, Berkeley  & a Fulbright Fellow in Environmental Leadership at the Institute of Sustainable Solutions (ISS), Portland State University in  USA.

Fellowships and awards: She is a World Bank Environmental Management Program Fellowship Awardee (2001) Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) International Fellow (2007);  a Trainer-Member, The Climate Change Project, India Chapter, Initiated by Al Gore (2008);  Recipient of Zayed Intl. IInd Prize for the Environment, Dubai  (2007) & a Fulbright Fellow at Institute of Sustainable Solutions, Portland State University, Portand, USA.

She has been recognized by United Nations-REDD platform for ‘Women Working in Forests” on the occasion of Internal Women’s Day of 2018. A feature on her work has been published in category of Change Makers in special issue of India Today, a leading Indian Magazine in March 2018 on Madhya Pradesh State under the category of trendsetters…anchors of new policies. She was also a panelist in the session on “Write Stuff: The state of Education” in the “India Today: The State of The State Conclave” held at Bhopal on 29th March, 2018. She recently had been a discussant for a Book on Wild Madhya Pradesh by eminent tiger conservationist in January, 2019 in Bhopal Art and Literature Festival, Bhopal, India.

She has also been  nominated as a  “Human Star” for “Day out with a Star” forum at based at Washington, DC on environmental careers and had a live telecast across the globe on 1st April, 2018 which  received an overwhelming response from the viewers.

Work and other passions: She has 34 years of work experience with many national and international institutes and Ministries and United Nations bodies, travelled to more than 30 countries for her work and has more than 40 publications in international and national journals and 30 Project Reports to her credit for national and international organizations. She mainly works on ‘valuing & accounting benefits of Environmental conservation and costs of degradation’. Many of her works have greatly influenced the policy makers and have led to introduction of economic instruments in the system.

Her most passionate project so far has been Valuing the habitat of Tigers and Snow Leopards which took her across the country and now venturing into other Asian landscape. Besides her passion for Conservation of nature, she is a passionate light vocal singer, an interior designer and an excellent Cook and penning a book on “What I cook for my family-from the desk of a working woman”.

Harini Nagendra

Harini Nagendra is a Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, where she anchors the Centre for Urban Sustainability. Her research focuses on natural research management in the global South, with a particular focus on forests and cities. She is the author of “Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future” (Oxford University Press), and “Cities and Canopies: The Tree Book of Urban India” (Penguin India, forthcoming in 2019, with Seema Mundoli).

Other Featured Speakers


Rodolfo Dirzo

Rodolfo Dirzo will provide special remarks at this year’s Evening Celebration at the Bing Concert Hall. Professor Dirzo’s scientific work examines the study of species interactions in tropical ecosystems from Latin America and Africa. Recent research highlights the decline of animal life (“defaunation”), and how this affects ecosystem processes/services. He teaches ecology, natural history, and conservation science at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Stanford, and conducts science education programs with underserved children in the Bay Area and in Mexico. His lab includes undergrads, graduate students, postdocs and visiting scholars from US, Latin America and Spain. Dirzo has coauthored the new Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Rich Sharp

Rich Sharp leads the software development projects that support ecosystem service assessment and planning at the Natural Capital Project. Previously he was an assistant professor of computer science at St. Lawrence University and earned his Ph.D. in computer science from The Ohio State University. His research interests include developing computational software for natural science applications, high performance computing applications, cloud computing, and scientific visualization.