Development Alternatives, founded in 1983, was one of the first major organisations set up specifically to address the problems of sustainable development. Its objectives are to attach the problems of poverty, resource degradation and population growth at the village level on a large, national scale in a self-financing manner. To achieve this, it has adopted the strategy of focussing sophisticated scientific, technological and management methods to the solution of simple everyday problems of survival and subsistence. Led by Ashok Khosla, the organisation has built up a major research centre which develops innovative technologies for basic human needs. Examples of such technologies include: low cost but high grade construction using local materials such as mud, fuel-efficient woodstoves for cooking, handmade recycled paper and high-productivity handloom weaving machines.
Barli Development Institute for Rural Women
Barli Development Institute for Rural Women was established in 1985 for the upliftment of rural and tribal women living in rural communities in the districts around Indore.
The organic growth of the Institute has enabled it to develop a comprehensive curriculum that empowers the women with the knowledge and skills they need to improve their lives and the lives of their families and the communities in which they live.
In 1987, the Institute joined the Indian Government's Technology Mission on drinking water, in Jhabua, one of the 51 districts affected by guinea-worms, with 302 villages having 752 infected persons and 211,813 at risk.
The Institute coordinated with the government in conducting environmental programmes to educate and train tribal villagers, mainly women, on prevention and eradication of guinea worms, caused by contaminated water.
Mobilisation and motivation of health fuctionaries was also designed around the government's work related to drinking water management. This helped the district with complete eradication of guinea-worms.
Since July 1992, the Institute has voluntarily started working for another neighbouring district, Dhar, where 68 active cases were found by the Government in six villages
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Dr. Shiva is among the most outspoken defenders and campaigners for the third world poor - particularly women. She forcefully demonstrates that they are not to be blamed for environmental degradation.
Initially trained in particle physics, she adopted a comprehensive approach on environmental issues as coordinator of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in Dehra Dun, India.
She is one of the most sought-after speakers on environmental matters and among her many books, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India has become a classic.
M. C. Mehta
If the thousands of medieval crusaders only partially and temporarily delivered the Holy Land from the Turks, this one crusader has probably won more battles in the courts of India.
M. C. Mehta, a lawyer, has led a crusade against polluters despite public apathy, the threats to his life, the financial costs, and the generally hostile circumstances surrounding his activities.
In his peaceful fight, he has succeeded in getting orders from the Supreme Court to include environmental messages in the cinema, in television, and to include the environment as a compulsory subject in schools up to the standard 12 level.
He regularly conducts green marches involving student, professionals, and ordinary people to widen environmental awareness and to get more positive action from the grassroots level to the bureaucracy.
For Madhaviah Krishnan, 82, preservation of nature has always been an overriding passion. Since 1949, he has made his living variously as an artist, writer, naturalist, and nature photographer.
Madhaviah Krishnan's fortnightly nature column "Country Notebook", published in India's premier newspaper, The Statesman, is perhaps the longest running personal column in the history of the Indian Press. It has run without a break for the last 45 years. Through this column, Mr. Krishnan has tried to stimulate the interest of ordinary citizens in India's unique heritage of plant and animal life. He has tried to instill in the younger generation a love for nature while at the same time telling them that preservation is not the duty of the Government alone but is theirs too.
He was awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1968 for an ecological survey of larger mammals in India. He has been a member of diverse Central and State Government Committees on Wildlife. He has published books on India's flora and fauna, including a survey of India's wildlife for the Bombay Natural History Society. He has also undertaken field surveys on wildlife for the Central Government.
With more than 35 years experience in journalism and social service and as Honorary Vice-President and Chairperson of the Rural Energy Department of the All-India Women's Conference (AIWC), Mrs. Lalita Balakrishnan has been a pioneer in the environmental field and has spearheaded the country's woodstove programme which has been judged to be the best by the Government of India. Her efforts have resulted in: more than 3,000 rural women being trained in the construction and maintenance of improved woodstoves and their becoming self-employed and earning decent wages; a reduction in the amount of time spent on collecting fuelwood by three to six hours daily; the installation of 215,000 improved woodstoves in 3,000 villages in 22 states; a saving of 700-1000 kg of fuelwood per chulha per annum or a total of 200,000 tons in a decade or Rs.700 per household/year; the prevention of smoke-related diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and eye infections in a population of about one million (studies have shown that woodstove smoke inhaled by the average rural woman is equivalent to smoking five packs of cigarettes a day); the construction of more than 2000 bio-gas plants in rural areas using a network of 150 NGOs; the provision of clean cooking fuel under hygienic conditions and bio-fertilizers for more than 200 families. She is India's National Coordinator for the International Forum for Sustainable Energy and a Director on the Board of India's Renewable Energy Development Agency.
Veit Koester heads the Ecological Division of National Forest and Nature Agency in the Ministry of the Environment of Denmark. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and publications in the field of nature conservation and international environmental law. Mr. Koester has been an active contributor to the preparation of several international legal instruments on nature conservation, notably the World Heritage Convention, the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the European Community Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds and Community Regulations i.e. on the implementation of the Washington Convention within the community. He has been responsible for the Danish implementation of these international legal instruments. Mr. Koester has served as elected chairman for and is member of numerous international committees and environmental organizations.
In 1967, Jane Goodall established the Gombe Stream Research Centre in the United Republic of Tanzania.
For 35 years, her behavioural and ecological projects, focusing on wild chimpanzees and olive baboons, have provided insight into the lives of non-human primates. In one of her many observations, which amazed the world, Jane Goodall documented chimpanzees making and using tools - a behaviour previously believed to separate humans from other animals.
In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation (JGI) to provide ongoing support for field research on wild chimpanzees. The Institute directly supports or contributes to many programmes and projects including: field research activities based at the Gombe Stream Research Centre; the Chimpanzoo Programme - an international research project dedicated to the study of chimpanzees living in zoos and other captive settings; sanctuaries for orphaned chimpanzees located in the Congo, Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda which provide support for the rehabilitation and conservation of chimpanzees; and an international environmental education and humanitarian programme for youth, entitled `Roots and Shoots', which promotes hands-on activities which lead to a better understanding of environmental, animal and community issues in more than 30 countries.
Jane Goodall's tireless dedication has brought wildlife conservation and environmental issues to the attention of millions of people around the world.
After a brief stint as a soldier in the Indian army and inspired by the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Captain C. P. Krishnan Nair, started manufacturing handloom garments. He then went on to practice the traditional Indian art of Athithi Sathkar hospitality in the hotel industry. He established "Leela" - the first environmentally friendly hotel in India - where guests are invited to enjoy the beauty of nature. He has invested time and energy by personally growing and looking after a variety of plants, trees and shrubs not only in the neighbourhood, but in the city of Mumbai. Today, even the city slums no longer look like slums. His efforts have motivated the people, particularly the poor, to recognize that they too can brighten their lives by cleaning and greening their environment. His hotel has become a model, which has stimulated the entire hotel industry in India to develop environmentally-sound and sustainable management practices. He has significantly contributed to the greening of the area near the international and domestic airports, and today, tree-lined avenues, flowering traffic islands and road dividers dotted with shrubs embellish the area. Captain Nair is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Pride of India Gold Award, the Shiromani Vikas Award, the Goa Rattan Gold Award, the Prime Minister's Regional Tourism Award and the Mumbai Civic Award.
Thirteen-year-old Kruti Parekh, one of the world's youngest female illusionists, uses magic to pass on the environmental message. She performs in schools and at public functions.
To illustrate the need to recycle, she turns herself into a paper recycling machine by eating paper and magically reproduces recycled paper. She also tells a child to put a banana peel in her bag and turns it into a bouquet of roses, to demonstrate how waste can help beautify one's environment.
She is the founder and director of Eco-Foundation, which is collaborating with Panchvati Green Movement, and has been appointed their official ambassador in Mumbai.
She succeeded in involving some 100 schools in the city to participate in the project "Rescue Mission Planet Earth". She represented India at the International Children's Conference on Environment, held in Eastbourne, England in 1995.
She is the director of Eco-Kid Club in Bal Bhavan and has created a vermiculture pit in Bal Bhavan, which transforms garden waste into manure. She uses earthworms as the vehicle for turning garbage into a reusable resource. She has put this principle into practice at her home, in a temple in Mumbai whose monthly waste is more than one ton, and she is planning to adopt a railway station where she would apply her vermiculture approach. She was interviewed about her vermiculture programme, by a Japanese television station for a documentary on children and the environment, as well as by BBC radio and TV.