Washington: An Indian and an American scientist will share the 2015 Tyler Prize for their leadership and engagement in the development of conservation and sustainability policies in the US, India and internationally.
Madhav Gadgil of Goa University and Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University were today named winners of the 42nd Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement recognizing careers dedicated to informing policy with sound science, engaging local communities.
As the winners of the Tyler Prize, Gadgil and Lubchenco will share the $200,000 cash prize and each receive a gold medallion.
The two scientists will deliver public lectures on their work at The Forum at the University of Southern California on April 23.
They will be honoured in a private ceremony at The Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on April 24.
“Drs. Lubchenco and Gadgil represent the very best in bringing high-quality science to policymaking to protect our environment and ensure the sustainability of natural resources in their respective countries and around the world,” said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Owen T. Lind, Professor of Biology at Baylor University.
“Both of these laureates have bridged science with cultural and economic realities–like the impact on Indigenous Peoples in India or fishing communities in the United States–to advance the best possible conservation policies.”
Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world’s first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize has been the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy.
Gadgil is the D.D. Kosambi Visiting Research Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Goa University and chaired the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel for India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The landmark report on the biodiversity of the region sparked a national conversation about conservation policies and built upon his earlier work helping to draft India’s Biological Diversity Act.
Gadgil’s career has been dedicated to not only infusing environmental science into policymaking in India, but promoting the field of environmental science nationally, a media release said.
Through his public speaking and writing, Gadgil has advanced the field of environmental science and put it on the national radar.
Gadgil’s approach to ecology is one inherited from his father, an economist: on-the-ground engagement with the communities affected by economic and environmental policies.
“From an early age, my father’s work inspired me to work with people and think about the impact of our collective activities,” said Gadgil.
“This first came about in my work in 1975 when traditional basket weavers who depended on bamboo in the Western Ghats approached the government and said the over-exploitation of bamboo for paper mills was hurting their livelihood.”
Gadgil’s work began examining the tension between economic development, traditional use of resources among local communities and environmental conservation.
This cross-sector approach drove the publication of his first book, This Fissured Land, which is used in environmental education across India, as well as a resource for policymakers.
Working with local forest communities in the central Indian forest belt, Gadgil has seen that that management in the hands of locals is most effective ensuring economic opportunity and sustainable use of natural resources while preserving sacred groves and local cultures.
“We must engage local people who are most directly affected by policies if we want to develop policies that promote sustainability and balance the economics, culture and conservation,” said Gadgil. “Empowering people is the key.”