Ecological security is the foundation of sustainable and equitable development. We are committed to strengthen, revive, and restore the process of ecological succession and the conservation of land, forest, and water resources in the country.

To this end, FES:

  1. 1.

    Works towards the ecological restoration and conservation of land and water resources in the uplands and other ecofragile, degraded and marginalised zones of the country, and to this end, to set in place the processes of coordinated human effort and governance, and provide relief to the poor, in particular.

  2. 2.

    Works either directly, or with and through a range of democratic village institutions, their federal bodies and civil society organisations, set up through initiatives that are ecologically sustainable and socially and economically equitable.

  3. 3.

    Ensures the ecological integrity of all efforts by working, as far as possible, with entire landscapes and with all the interrelated communities within it, through a range of arrangements on their land and aquatic resources, whether Commons, Public, or Private.

  4. 4.

    Collaborates with Panchayat Raj and other democratic village institutions as well as appropriate civil society organisations, in their efforts to fulfil the objectives of society and to provide technical and financial assistance to them.

  5. 5.

    Undertakes and sponsors studies and research related to the understanding of ecological processes, the biology and ecology of endemic and endangered species and the various aspects of the political-economy of the associated human communities.

  6. 6.

    Assists in the creation of a coherent perspective on forest and water-related land-use policy as well as a conducive legal and regulatory environment, and disseminates knowledge and information through dialogue with policymakers, legislators as well as administrators, professionals, other agencies and the public at large.

At FES, milestones are simply physical markers of the steps we take to realise ecological security. They are not, in themselves, achievements. What we strive for are the takeaways and the lessons: to set our sights on the forests, not plantations, to look beyond the trees at ecosystems, to reach past cooperatives for true cooperation; to engage, organise, and secure, for the generations that follow.

Registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI 1860, the Foundation for Ecological Security was set up in 2001 to reinforce the massive and critical task of ecological restoration in the country. FES enables rural communities to secure legal rights to their Commons, prepare resource management and governance plans, and access public investment to support environmental improvement. Concurrently, FES:

  • Engages with government to implement policies and programmes that promote the local management and governance of Commons.

  • Channels information systems and technology to improve civic engagement.

  • Partners with research institutions to improve understanding, and bring rigour in field action.

We look forward to a future where local communities determine and move towards desirable land-use practices based on principles of conservation and social justice.

In addition to the repositories of knowledge, know-how and networks that each of these members brings to the board, it is their shared vision for and investment in the Foundation, one of good governance and sound strategy, that propels us forward, individually and collectively.

  • usha-thorat

    Usha Thorat

    Chairperson
  • amrita-patel

    Amrita Patel

    Member
  • Samar Singh

    Samar Singh

    Member
  • Nitin Desai

    Nitin Desai

    Member
  • Deepak Tikku

    Deepak Tikku

    Member
  • Sudarshan Iyengar

    Sudarshan Iyengar

    Member
  • Mahendra Vyas

    Mahendra Vyas

    Member
  • Shailesh Nayak

    Shailesh Nayak

    Member
  • Shailesh Nayak

    Gayatri Menon

    Member
  • NDDB

    National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)

    Institutional Member
  • NABARD

    National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD)

    Institutional Member
  • Sanjay Joshie

    Sanjay Joshie

    (Ex-Officio Member Secretary)
  • Jagdeesh Rao

    Jagdeesh Rao

    Anchor and Curator - Commons Collaborative and India Observatory Former Executive Director, FES
  • usha-thorat

    Usha Thorat

    Chairperson

    Usha Thorat

    Chairperson

    Ms. Usha Thorat has over 38 years’ experience in central banking and financial regulation, having retired in 2010 as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). During this period, she led RBI's initiatives in financial inclusion, and held significant roles, including representing India in the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) committee on global banking regulation. As Deputy Governor she served as a member of Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

    Ms. Thorat became the first Director of the Centre for Advanced Financial Research (CAFRAL), an organisation she helped set up in 2011 under the aegis of the RBI, as a Centre of Excellence for Research and Learning. She continued as Director till April 2014, after which she remained associated as a member of the Governing Council till June 2017.

    With an active interest in and commitment to social and environmental issues, Ms. Thorat is a trustee of the Indian Cancer Society and Chair of Lotus Medical Foundation that works in the area of HIV/AIDs.

    An MA in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, Ms. Thorat has written extensively and delivered several lectures, which have been published both nationally and internationally on banking and financial regulation.

  • amrita-patel

    Amrita Patel

    Member

    Amrita Patel

    Member

    Dr. Amrita Patel is the former Chairman of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). She also served on the board of WWF India, Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, and continues to be on the boards of Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development, New Delhi, and the Sardar Patel Renewable Energy Research Institute, Vallabh Vidya Nagar. She was conferred the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for her contribution to the dairy and animal husbandry industries, and the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for her significant contribution to the Environment. She featured in the list of Top Business Women of the Year (Business Today) consecutively for five years, and topped the list in 2008.

  • Samar Singh

    Samar Singh

    Member

    Samar Singh

    Member

    Mr. Samar Singh was appointed the Secretary to the Government of India in 1996 and worked on deputation as the Secretary General, World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-India) from 1993 to 2000. He has also worked as Member-Secretary, Indian Board for Wildlife, under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister. Mr. Samar Singh has also served as Member-Secretary of the Court and Executive Council of Forest Research Institute & Colleges; and Member-Secretary of the National Land Board and National Commission for Conservation and Development of Land Resources.

  • Nitin Desai

    Nitin Desai

    Member

    Nitin Desai

    Member

    Mr. Nitin Desai had a long carrier in the Government of India, where he worked in the Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry, and later in the United Nations, where he served as the Under Secretary General from 1993 to 2003. He was the Senior Economic Advisor for the World Commission on Environment and Development, the Deputy Secretary-General of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the Secretary -General of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. His main contribution was in integrating sustainable development and social development into the global policy dialogue.

  • Deepak Tikku

    Deepak Tikku

    Member

    Deepak Tikku

    Member

    Mr. Deepak Tikku is Chairman, NDDB Dairy Services Ltd. He is also a member of the following boards: Indian Immunologicals Limited, Bharat Aseptic Packaging Industries Limited, National Co-Operative Dairy Federation Ltd., Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd., National Dairy Research Institute, Institute of Rural Management, National Society for Development of Administration, Research & Training, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority, and Project for Genetic Engineering of oilseeds/vegetable crops.

  • Sudarshan Iyengar

    Sudarshan Iyengar

    Member

    Sudarshan Iyengar

    Member

    Sudarshan Iyengar, Ph.D. Economics, is a former Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad founded by Mahatma Gandhi. He has worked with various ICSSR recognised socioeconomic research institutions in Gujarat. He was also Chair Professor, Gandhian Philosophy, at IIT, Mumbai (2016-18). He worked for rehabilitation of tribal families displaced by Naramada Dam project, Gujarat (1989- 94) and relief work during Kachchh earthquake (2001). He is presently living and working at Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) at Dharampur, Valsad, Gujarat.

  • Mahendra Vyas

    Mahendra Vyas

    Member

    Mahendra Vyas

    Member

    Mr. Mahendra Vyas is a senior advocate, Supreme Court of India, and is actively involved in the field of nature conservation. He is a member of the Central Empowered Committee, a statutory Committee under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, constituted by the Supreme Court; and member of the various Committees constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. He has been a Member of the Species Survival Commission's Cat Specialist Group (India) of the IUCN, since 1993.

  • Shailesh Nayak

    Shailesh Nayak

    Member

    Shailesh Nayak

    Member

    Dr. Shailesh Nayak has a doctorate in Geology, and is former Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India. He is known for his expertise in technology, especially Earth Sciences and GIS, and for his work in setting up a state-of-the-art Early Warning System for Tsunami and Storm Surges in the Indian Ocean. He was responsible for the conceptualisation and development of Marine GIS. He made outstanding contributions in improving advisory services related to potential fishing zones, ocean state forecasts, and the Indian Argo project. He is the President of the International Geological Congress-2020 (Dec. 2015 onwards), and has been Chair of many international conferences related to Earth Sciences, Remote Sensing, and Climate Change.

  • Gayatri Menon

    Gayatri Menon

    Member

    Gayatri Menon

    Member

    Gayatri Menon has worked in Development for over 25 years, with a special focus on informal settlements and economies and women's empowerment. She has extensive experience in the NGO sector, where her first forays were in biodiversity conservation and the then newly emerging concerns around intellectual property rights and agricultural trade raised by farmers' movements. She subsequently worked with Swayam Shikshan Prayog in its efforts to rehabilitate women's livelihoods and strengthen their leadership in the earthquake affected communities in Marathwada and other areas of Maharashtra.
    She holds a doctorate from Cornell University and has taught at the graduate and post-graduate levels for several years, at Cornell and later at Franklin and Marshall College, offering courses in political sociology and on theories, politics and practices of development.
    She returned to India in 2013 and continued her engagement with development practitioners, including SPARC and the Huairou Commission, on policy research and participatory action projects related to land rights, livelihoods, community mobilisation and resilience. In 2015, she joined the faculty of Azim Premji University's School of Development, helping develop and execute its core curriculum, and various institution-building initiatives. She has also served on the governing boards of Aangan Trust and IT for Change.

  • NDDB

    National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)

    Institutional Member

    National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)

    Institutional Member

    National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) aims to promote, finance and support producer-owned and controlled organisations. NDDB's programmes and activities seek to strengthen farmer cooperatives and support national policies that are favourable to the growth of such institutions. Fundamental to NDDB's efforts are cooperative principles and cooperative strategies.

  • NABARD

    National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD)

    Institutional Member

    National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD)

    Institutional Member

    National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development (NABARD) is an apex Development Bank with a mandate for facilitating credit flow for promotion and development of agriculture, small-scale industries, cottage and village industries, handicrafts and other rural crafts. It also extends support to all other allied economic activities in rural areas, promoting integrated and sustainable rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas of India.

  • Sanjay Joshie

    Sanjay Joshie

    (Ex-Officio Member Secretary)

    Sanjay Joshie

    (Ex-Officio Member Secretary)

    With over 29 years of experience, Sanjay is a results-oriented, mission-driven executive leader with a proven record of working on issues around Community Institutions, Natural Resource Management, Rural Livelihoods and Disaster Management. Prior to assuming the role of Executive Director-FES, as Chief Operations Officer (COO), he was responsible for overall operations and setting in place robust systems for the planning, financial management, monitoring and reporting of FES projects.
    His initial years were spent working with communities in rural India across the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Engaging with varied socio-economic groups, especially the poor and marginalized, and living across varied geographies and landscapes, deepened his understanding of the larger issues around natural resource management, and the interrelations between human and natural systems. The learning he gained during these years shaped his career and continue to inform his actions till date.
    He currently leads the efforts to scale FES’ core work and thinking on ground through furthering high quality partnerships, working effectively with governments and programs for execution, building up rural colleges, the capacity building engines of FES, and driving identification and adoption of technologies.
    His interest areas include institution building and governance, gender and inclusion, livelihoods and poverty reduction, networking and policy advocacy around Commons, integrated disaster management and risk reduction. He is deeply invested in nurturing an inclusive and gender-sensitive work culture that embraces diversity, promotes respect and acceptance, and fosters distributed power, leadership and learning at all levels and in all endeavors of FES.

  • Sanjay Joshie

    Jagdeesh Rao

    Anchor and Curator - Commons Collaborative and India Observatory Former Executive Director, FES

    Jagdeesh Rao

    Anchor and Curator - Commons Collaborative and India Observatory Former Executive Director, FES

    A practitioner from the very beginning, Jagdeesh’s  35 year  professional engagement has been on interrelated issues of poverty and environmental degradation and on ‘systems thinking’ at the interface of ecology, society and economy. His ideas and efforts have played an important role in the growing recognition of the potential of local stewardship of Commons to reduce poverty and reverse environmental degradation.
    A member of the founding team of FES, Jagdeesh nurtured a learning team of practitioners and played an important role in developing the strategic vision of the organisation before becoming Chief Executive of FES in 2001. He led the organisation till July 2020. As the ‘Anchor and Curator’ at FES,  he has now  taken on the responsibilities of influencing policy, advancing knowledge generation and exchange and building larger constituency for the Promise of Commons initiative that aims to improve the governance and management of 30 million acres of village commons (community forests and pastures) in  India.
    Jagdeesh has been conferred the prestigious ‘Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship’ 2015 and he is also a Henry Arnhold (Mulago) Conservation Fellow (2017) and Senior Ashoka Fellow (2020). His areas of interest include Commons, decentralized governance, biodiversity informatics, systems thinking and history of science and law.

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