India's Environment Challenges and Impact of COVID

Envisioning India Series

This session with India’s leading environmentalist Sunita Narain will highlight findings of the State of India’s Environment 2021 the most comprehensive report on India’s environment produced by 60 notable experts in the subject in India by the Down To Earth magazine at the Centre for Science and the Environment.  It has three special sections: an assessment of the pandemic and its impacts a year after, a data analysis of how India’s states are faring on environment and development parameters, and a tribute to the decade of biodiversity.

About the Speakers

Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain is a Delhi-based environmentalist and author.  She is currently the Director General of Center for Science and Environment (CSE) and Editor of the fortnightly magazine, Down To Earth. Dr. Narain plays an active role in policy formulation on issues of environment and development in India and globally. She has worked extensively on climate change, with a particular interest in advocating for an ambitious and equitable global agreement. Her work on air pollution, water and waste management as well as industrial pollution has led to an understanding of the need for affordable and sustainable solutions in countries like India where the challenge is to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth. She was a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and has been awarded the Padma Shri. In 2005, the Centre for Science and Environment, under her leadership was also awarded the Stockholm Water Prize. In 2016, Time magazine selected her as one of the most influential people in the world. She received “The Order of the Polar Star” award from the Swedish Government in 2017.  Narain also received the Edinburgh Medal 2020 conferred by the City of Edinburgh Council in the UK. She continues to serve on national and international committees on environment.

Laveesh Bhandari

Laveesh Bhandari is a Senior Fellow at CSEP. Laveesh will lead and develop the climate change capability at CSEP. In addition, he will help define the broad macro agenda and advise on the sub-national reform. Dr Bhandari is an economist, entrepreneur and an environmentalist. He is currently the Director of Indicus Foundation and leads its Environment and Sustainable Livelihoods initiative. Laveesh has published widely on subjects related to sustainable livelihoods, industrial, economic and social reforms in India, economic geography and financial inclusion. He received his PhD in economics from Boston University for which he was awarded the Best thesis in International Economics. He has taught economics in Boston University and IIT Delhi. He has been the managing editor of Journal of Emerging Market Finance, and worked at National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi. He has built, seeded, and exited from three companies in the research, analytics and digital domain.

Muthukumar Mani

Mani is a Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist in the South Asia Region (SAR) of the World Bank. 

In his current position, Mani has been working on climate change mitigation and adaptation issues, water and environmental issues in the SAR. He has led several regional flagship reports on climate change, glaciers, air pollution, and water. His report on “South Asia’s Hotspots,” was featured in the New York Times as a benchmark study. More recently, Mani has been supporting South Asia region’s green, resilient and inclusive recovery program in addition to co-leading the preparation of the SAR Climate Change Action Plan. Prior to joining this position, Mani was in operations with the SAR Climate Change Team, where his work program focused on leading policy dialogue in advancing inclusive green growth and climate change issues with national and sub-national governments.

In addition, Mani has led the World Bank's work on assessing environmental implications of development policy operations in the Environment Global Practice of the World Bank. His work has also focused on country environmental assessments; natural resources management; environmental institutions and governance; and trade and climate change issues. Prior to joining the World Bank, Mani was a Fiscal Economist in the Fiscal Affairs Department of the International Monetary Fund. In addition to participating in the IMF country missions for Article IV consultations and Program Reviews, he was responsible for providing guidance on integrating environmental considerations in the IMF’s country programs and advising on tax policy issues.

Mani has a number of books, policy reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles to his credit. He holds a Ph.D. and Masters in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jay Shambaugh

Jay Shambaugh is a Professor of Economics and International Affairs, and Co-Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy at the George Washington University. Professor Shambaugh’s area of research is macroeconomics and international economics. His work includes analysis of the interaction of exchange rate regimes with monetary policy, capital flows, and trade flows as well as studies of international reserves holdings, country balance sheet exchange rate exposure, the cross-country impact of fiscal policy, the crisis in the euro area, and regional growth disparities. He has had two stints in public service. He served as a Member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors from 2015-2017. Earlier, he served on the staff of the CEA as a Senior Economist for International Economics and then as the Chief Economist. He also spent 3 years as the Director of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the NBER and Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings.

James E. Foster

James E. Foster is the Oliver T. Carr Professor of International Affairs and Professor of Economics  at George Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University and holds a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo (Mexico). 

Professor Foster's research focuses on welfare economics — using economic tools to evaluate and enhance the wellbeing of people. His joint 1984 Econometrica paper (with Joel Greer and Erik Thorbecke) is one of the most cited papers on poverty. It introduced the FGT Index, which has been used in thousands of studies and was employed in targeting the Progresa CCT program in México. Other research includes work on economic inequality with Amartya Sen; on the distribution of human development with Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva and Miguel Szekely; on multidimensional poverty with Sabina Alkire; and on literacy with Kaushik Basu. Foster regularly teaches introductory and doctoral courses on international development and each spring joins with Professor Basu in presenting an undergraduate course on Game Theory and Strategic Thinking, to which staff and Board members of the World Bank are also invited. 

Professor Foster is also Research Fellow at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Department of International Development, Oxford University, and a member of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity (HCEO) Working Group, Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, University of Chicago. This year he is serving on the World Bank’s Commission on Global Poverty.

Ajay Chhibber

Ajay Chhibber is Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Institute for International Economic Policy, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, the Atlantic Council, Washington DC.

He was the Chief Economic Advisor, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He was earlier the first Director General (Minister of State) , Independent Evaluation Office, Government of India and Distinguished Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), India – affiliated institute of the Ministry of Finance – where he completed a major study on India’s Public Sector Enterprises.

He held senior positions at the UN as Assistant Secretary General and Assistant Administrator, UNDP and managed their program for Asia and the Pacific. At the World Bank he served as Country Director in Turkey and Vietnam and Division Chief for Indonesia and the Pacific and Lead Economist, West Africa Department. He was also Director of the 1997 World Development Report on the Role of the State. He also worked in the World Bank’s Research Department, as Advisor to the Chief Economist of the World Bank and at the Public Economics Division.

He has a Ph. D from Stanford University and a Masters from the Delhi School of Economics. He also has attended advanced management programs at the Harvard Business School, Harvard University and INSEAD, France. He taught at Georgetown University and at the University of Delhi. He has published widely including five books in development economics, and is a contributor (columnist) to several newspapers.

He is now writing a book, India: A Reset for the 21st Century under contract with Harper-Collins.