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Collaboration Drives Sustainability Innovation at ICASS Workshop

Tata Trust & TNCC

In a step toward bridging the gap between science, policy, and practice in the realm of sustainability, The Nature Conservancy Centre (TNCC) recently organized a day-long workshop backed by Tata Trusts. The event, known as ‘The Indian Collaborative for Applied Sustainable Solutions’ (ICASS) initiative, brought together an array of sustainability practitioners to address the gaps in the science-policy-practice interface, ultimately ensuring effective sustainability implementation.

This gathering revolved around discussions related to 20 ICASS initiatives and real-world case studies, each representing an essential piece of the sustainability puzzle. These initiatives include managing elephant recolonization in Madhya Pradesh, regenerating oak forests in Sikkim, restoring riparian areas along the Narmada River basin, and the landscape-level management of the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area. Additionally, ICASS highlighted the promotion of green urban infrastructure. These endeavours collectively aim to provide robust, actionable solutions to policy and practice challenges in the field of sustainability.

ICASS, with strong backing from Tata Trusts, serves as a collaborative platform that unites scientists, practitioners, and policymakers. The initiative’s primary goal is to bridge the Science, Policy, and Practice gap, fostering engagement, co-production, innovation, and capacity building. In the initial phase of ICASS, spanning two years, more than 100 experts from TNC and partner organizations dedicated their efforts to gather evidence through Working Groups and field pilots for potential solutions.

Dr. Annapurna Vancheswaran, Managing Director of TNCC, set the tone for the workshop in her inaugural address. She emphasized the need for evidence-based policy framing to address challenges like climate change and sustainable development goals. Dr. Vancheswaran highlighted that robust scientific evidence is a crucial element, one that extends beyond theory to real-world applications, rigorously tested across various contexts.

Key figures in the field of sustainability were present at the inaugural session, including Prof R. Sukumar from the Indian Institute of Science, Subramanian Ramadori, Chairman Karmayogi Bharat, RR Rashmi from the Centre for Global Environmental Research in TERI, and Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman of Development Alternatives. The policy briefs unveiled during the event contained findings and recommendations from these case studies, intended for further consideration by the government and practitioners.

In his keynote address, Dr. Ashok Khosla emphasized the importance of measuring the impact of proposed sustainable solutions, both mathematically and socially, with an emphasis on gender parity in environmental sustainability. Prof R. Sukumar discussed the dynamic nature of the policy landscape, while Subramanian Ramadorai underlined the importance of capacity building. RR Rashmi highlighted that policymaking, despite being rooted in scientific data, is influenced by social, economic, and political factors.

Amitanshu Choudhary, representing Tata Trusts, expressed appreciation for the launch of the ten policy briefs and reaffirmed his organization’s commitment to supporting initiatives like those by TNCC.

Dr. Sushil Saigal, Director of Programs at TNCC, delivered the closing remarks, announcing that the ICASS initiative would continue through a Secretariat and an Advisory Group, featuring leading universities dedicated to sustainability issues.

The ICASS workshop stands as a testament to the collaborative efforts of organizations and individuals determined to make a difference in the field of sustainability. By bringing together experts from various sectors, ICASS aims to drive sustainable solutions that are not just scientifically sound but also applicable to real-world challenges. With backing from Tata Trusts, this initiative has the potential to catalyse significant change in India’s approach to sustainability.

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