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Deputy Director General,
My major role as Deputy Director General is to support and provide direction to programmes in the overall operation and management of ICIMOD in line with the policies and strategies approved by the Board of Governors. I’m fully committed to achieving the mission of ICIMOD, working for sustainable livelihoods of mountain people in a healthy environment. Part of my responsibilities have included anchoring roles in developing and implementing ICIMOD’s policies, our Strategy and Results Framework and our operational visioning five-year Medium Term Action Plans. I oversee programme design, operations and implementation of complex initiatives across eight countries with 300+ staff from more than 20 countries and 250+ partner institutions. I manage applied multidisciplinary research and analysis; provide guidance and direction to a matrix management system promoting interdisciplinarity; supervise and guide project design and implementation; promote gender and inclusive development; engage in partnership development and networking; advocate for evidence-based policy based on our own and other rigorous research across the HKH; lead institutional strategy development and operationalization; facilitate regional and transboundary cooperation among the eight HKH countries, and guide science policy and diplomacy in regional and global processes. I also contribute in developing relationships with eight regional member country governments and donors on programme development and implementation. I regularly represent ICIMOD in regional and global forums for promoting the mountain agenda. I am always focused on ensuring that the Centre achieves results and contributes to positive impact. In order to achieve results, I also ensure that ICIMOD has a professional environment so that our staff and partners can be innovative, work productively together, and deliver impacts.
How do you protect the pulse of the planet?
I was born and raised in this region and feel that the ‘pulse of the planet’ is like my very own pulse since this place is what I breathe, live and rejoice in. With all my emotions and commitment, I am a mountain person and I try with everything I have to support conservation and development of natural systems for sustaining global goods and services, to reduce the vulnerabilities of the people and ensure the sustainability of the HKH mountains.
What is your favorite part of the work you do at ICIMOD?
I feel honored to serve mountain people with support from our eight regional member countries and am so very grateful for the support of my colleagues who always provide inspiration in serving the people of the HKH and our Mother Nature.
What are you passionate about?
My passion is to create positive regional cooperation in a conflict-prone HKH to deliver regional impacts towards climate resilience and sustainable mountain development.
My qualifications, experience and recognition
My PhD and MSc degrees in Botany with a specialization in Ecology have provided me a strong foundation in social and environmental values as well as the conservation of nature and development in the HKH region. Over the years, I have built on this foundation through developing further expertise on biodiversity conservation, natural resource management, biogeochemical cycling in ecosystems, watershed and ecosystem management, transboundary landscape management, climate change impact assessments, adaptation, and resilience building.
My influence within the field of environmental science can be seen through the more than 210 international publications that are extensively cited and used. I organized and guided the 5-yr Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment process engaging 350+ scientists globally which Springer Nature published as the 2019 Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment. I also supervised seven students for their PhD degrees in environmental sciences. I was the Chief Editor of the Journal of Hill Research produced by the Sikkim Science Society. I served as the Asia Regional Editor of the Mountain Research and Development journal, and now serve on the international editorial board and one of the directors of the International Mountain Society, Switzerland. I took the lead in developing the north-south transect and transboundary landscape approach for the HKH region and this approach has now been institutionalized in our Transboundary Landscape Regional Programme.
I established the Sikkim Regional Centre of G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, an autonomous Institute of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of the Government of India in the 1990s. In my 12 years of leadership there, the regional centre was fully developed with a strong team of researchers. As a Visiting Scientist to the University of Glasgow, Scotland under an exchange programme between the Indian National Science Academy and the Royal Society of London, I established research collaborations on biological nitrogen fixation and biogeochemical cycling. Through all of these efforts, I have helped link science with policy development in the State of Sikkim and at the national level in India.
Over the past 18 years of my service to ICIMOD, my positions have been: Head of the Farming Systems, Programme Manager for Natural Resources Management, Programme Manager of Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services, Director Programme Operations, and Deputy Director General. There are many contributions I’ve made through these roles, and have been effective in supporting the financial sustainability of programmes and the institution. As a portfolio manager, I also implemented systems for monitoring, evaluation and learning specifically introducing the concepts and practices of developing Theory of Change and Impact Pathways in programmes and initiatives.
I have led the ICIMOD team to provide inputs to national level policies on environment, biodiversity, climate change, and ecosystem management in the regional member countries of the HKH region. Recently, I made scientific contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative of China, and NITI Aayog’s initiatives on mountains of the Indian Himalayan Region. I also supported the State Government of Sikkim, India by leading the development of the 2019 Organic Farming in Sikkim as a Strategy for Sustaining Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods and acting as Advisor on Environment and Development to the Chief Minister.
I have represented ICIMOD in many global conferences and arenas including promoting the mountain agenda in UNFCCC, CBD and SDG processes and helping to close science gaps on HKH mountain knowledge in IPCC and IPBES processes. In both IPBES and IPCC reports, mountains are now highlighted.
I have received many national and international awards including the Young Scientist Award of the Indian National Science Academy 1988; Eminent Scientist Award from the Government of India 1995; and Honorable Mention Paper Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society, USA 1999. I was elected as the Fellow of the National Institute of Ecology, India 1994; Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India 1999; and Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, India 2014. I received the “Excellence Award” for contributions in Science and Environment towards development of the Modern India from the Sikkim University and Government of Sikkim in 2017, and the Government of Sikkim also conferred on me its ‘Social Status Award’ for my contribution on the environment in 2004.