Balipara Foundation is looking forward to host its 11th edition of the annual Eastern Himalayan Naturenomics™ Forum in Guwahati, on the 18th and 19th of December 2023.
It was announced today at a press conference held in the city. The theme taking centre stage this year is the call for the ‘Great People’s Forest 2030’, bringing together 60 people from over 15 countries. Over 18th– 19th December, speakers and participants will tackle key themes to build a restoration agenda for the region to achieve by 2030, in accordance with the UN Decade of Restoration and pledges made to reverse forest degradation by 2030 under various climate and biodiversity agreements.
The Forum was launched at a curtain-raiser with contributions from leading figures such as Dr. Vandana Shiva, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate & founder of Navdanya; Dr. Richard Jeo, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific Field Division, Conservation International; Jason Knauf, Global Leadership Fellow, Conservation International; Purnima Devi Barman, UN Champion of the Earth and Wildlife Biologist; Ranjit Barthakur, Founder Forester, Balipara Foundation, and Panel Moderator, Sweetlana Ranjan, co-Founder of i-Behind the Ink & co-designer of the Balipara Foundation’s Rural Futures Fellowship.
Ranjit Barthakur, Founder of Balipara Foundation pointed out the importance of the third pole which is the Himsagar region. He stated, “The third pole that is the region from Tibet to the Indian Ocean is a predominant part of the ecological balance.” He added that the initiative by Balipara Foundation will continue to support and regenerate the Great Eastern Himalayas.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist and Founder of Navdanya, an initiative to promote biodiversity stated “If you look around in the North-East, where the forest ends and farm begins, it’s difficult to see. So, one of the things we must do is get rid of what I think is a monoculture of mind.” She emphasized that the separation must be extinct to be a part of this initiative.
Jason Knauf, Global Leadership Fellow at Conservation International and Chair of The Great People’s Forest Project Board stated, “Thenaturenomics forum which has been gathering from the last decade is successful in huge amount of information sharing among hundreds.” He added that such forums add value through knowledge sharing. He appreciated the incredible exchange of learning happening in the South Asian region throughinitiatives like the one taken by the Balipara Foundation.
The Eastern Himalayan region holds 30% of South Asia’s forests. It is a vital lifeline for the region because of the critical role they play in regulating the region’s hydrogeology: drawing water into the ground, minimising soil erosion & replenishing its soils. It is also facing high levels of degradation – the Northeast has been a hotspot for forest loss for the past two rounds of the Forest Survey of India. The Global Stocktake signed on to by countries at COP28 explicitly mentions the importance of conserving, protecting & restoring nature, with an explicit call-out to halting & reversing forest degradation by 2030 while ensuring social & environmental safeguards aligned to the Montreal-Kunming Biodiversity Framework. With its rich forests, the Eastern Himalayan region has the opportunity to play a global role in setting an example for transboundary land restoration and management led by communities on ground.
The Forum will explore critical themes on people, policy, economy and technology to identify the regional capacities that need to be leveraged in order to create a unified regional restoration agenda. These conversations will explore the power of young people in building regional environmental leadership, the pathway to a complementary regional policy around regenerative economies and leveraging natural capital to drive this and the role that technology like remote-sensing and AI can play in mapping forest ecosystem health to identify precise interventions needed in different locations. The Forum will also touch on key basics – land, energy, waste, water, air & carbon (LEWWAC) that are foundational to moving towards a green economy in the region.