Dr. Sharachchandra Lele | Center for Public Affairs and Critical Theory


Dr. Sharachchandra Lele
Dr. Sharachchandra
Honorary Professor
School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS)
Shiv Nadar University
Profile Summary 

Sharachchandra (Sharad) Lele got a B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay (1984) but then decided that environmental studies was more exciting and socially relevant. So he did an M.S. on the environmental impacts of large dams at IISc, Bangalore (1987) and then a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley (1993), focusing on forest use in the Western Ghats of India. Following that, he worked at the Pacific Institute, Harvard University, and Institute for Social & Economic Change. He co-founded the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment & Development in 2001, and led it till 2009, when it merged with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). He is now the Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Policy & Governance at ATREE as well as Adjunct Faculty at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune.

Sharad is an interdisciplinary environmental researcher, bridging the natural sciences, economics, and political science to understand the concepts of and pathways to environmentally sustainable and socially just development. He has worked on sustainable forest management and forest governance, forest hydrology and farmer linkages, landuse change, watershed development, water governance, urban water management and pollution regulation. This research has been published in a variety of interdisciplinary journals, including Conservation Biology, Journal of Environmental Management, Bioscience, Current Science, Water Resources Research, Hydrology and Earth System Science, Water International, Ecological Economics, World Development, Conservation & Society, Journal of Peasant Studies, Environmental Conservation and Nature Sustainability. Sharad has also co-authored a book on “Community-based Natural Resource Management in South Asia”, (Sage:2007), and edited “Democratising Forest Governance in India” (OUP: 2014) and “Rethinking Environmentalism: Linking Justice, Sustainability and Diversity” (MIT Press: 2018). Sharad also writes frequently for English, Kannada and Marathi newspapers in India. He teaches courses in Interdisciplinary Research Approaches and Environmental Policy and Governance in ATREE’s PhD programme in Sustainability Studies and MSc programme in Conservation Practice, and has contributed to interdisciplinary environmental teaching across many other educational institutions.

Sharad has worked extensively to promote interdisciplinary and socially relevant environmental research at the national and international level. He has been a Board Member of the International Society for Ecological Economics, is an Associate Editor of Ecological Economics, a Founder-Member and past President of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics, and serves or has served on the editorial boards of several other journals (Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Journal of Peasant Studies, Sustainability Science, Conservation & Society, and Journal of Land Use Science). He is currently a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Global Land Programme, the Mentoring Initiative of the International Water Resources Association, and the Academic Council of Tata Institute for Social Sciences. He is also a Lead Author in the IPBES Values Assessment.

Being committed to translating knowledge into change, Sharad is also highly engaged in policy-related work in India, including serving on the Ministry of Environment & Forests- Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ Joint Committee on the Forest Rights Act, the Karnataka High Court’s Elephant Task Force, the Bellandur Lake Monitoring Committee in Bengaluru, and the MoEF’s Expert Appraisal Committee for Thermal Power Plants and Coal Mining. He has served on a series of committees set up by the National Green Tribunal to look into environmental violations in coal mining areas of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. He is currently engaged in an action research project on the recognition of Community Forest Rights in Chhattisgarh.

For more details, see https://www.atree.res.in/users/dr-sharachchandra-lele

and https://iiserpune.pixelfirst.net/research/department/humanities-and-social-sciences/faculty/adjunct-faculty/shrachchandra-lele/358

Educational Qualifications 
Ph.D. (Energy & Resources)
UC Berkeley
MS (System Science)
B.Tech (Electrical Engineering)
Teaching & Research Interests: 

Sustainable and equitable development, sustainable forest management and forest governance, forest hydrology and farmer linkages, land-use change, watershed development, water governance, urban water management and pollution regulation

Scholarly Activity



Lele, S. and A. Menon (Eds), 2014, Democratizing Forest Governance in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.


Lele, S., E. Brondizio, J. Byrne, G. Mace and J. Martinez-Alier, 2018, Rethinking Environmentalism: Linking Justice, Sustainability, and Diversity, MIT Press, Cambridge (USA).

Journal Publications (accepted or published)


Lélé, S., 1991, "Sustainable Development: a critical review", World Development.


Lélé, S., 1993, "Sustainability: A plural, multi-dimensional approach", Working Paper, Pacific Institute for SIDES, Oakland, U.S.A.


Lélé, S. & R.B.Norgaard, 1996, "Sustainability and the Scientists' Burden", Conservation Biology.


Lélé, S., 1998, "Resilience, Sustainability, and Environmentalism", Environment & Development Economics.


Lélé, S., 2000, "Degradation, sustainability or transformation?", Seminar, 486: 31-37


Lele, S., 2013, "Rethinking sustainable development", Current History.


Lele, S., O. Springate-Baginski, R. Lakerveld, D. Deb and P. Dash, 2013, "Ecosystem services: Origins, contributions, pitfalls and alternatives", Conservation and Society.


Lele, S., P. R. Wilshusen, D. Brockington, R. Seidler and K. S. Bawa, 2010, "Beyond exclusion: alternative approaches to biodiversity conservation in the developing tropics", Curr. Opinions in Env.Sustainability.


Ariza-Montobbio, P., S. Lele, G. Kallis and J. Martinez-Alier, 2010, "The political ecology of Jatropha plantations for biodiesel in Tamil Nadu, India", Journal of Peasant Studies.


Lele, S. 2019, “Understanding Current Forest Policy Debates through Multiple Lenses: The Case of India”, Ecology, Economy and Society.


Lélé, S., R. B. Norgaard, & D. K. Subramanian, 1988, "Hydro­power project design incorporating submergence costs", Journal of Envi­ronmental Management.


Lele, S., 2009, "Watershed services of tropical forests: from hydrology to economic valuation to integrated analysis", Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.


Lele, S., I. Patil, S. Badiger, A. Menon and R. Kumar, 2011, "Forests, Hydrological Services, and Agricultural Income: A Case Study from Mysore district of the Western Ghats of India", in E.Haque,  et al. (Eds.), Environmental Valuation in South Asia, Cambridge University Press.


Srinivasan, V. and S. Lele, 2017, "From groundwater regulation to integrated water management: the biophysical case", Economic and Political Weekly.


Gadgil, A. & S. Lele, 2009, "India: Special Role and Responses", in S. H. Schneider, A. Rosencranz, M. D. Mastrandrea and K. Kuntz-Duriseti (Eds.), Climate Change Science and Policy, Island Press.


Lele, S., 2011, "Climate change and the Indian environmental movement", in N. Dubash (Ed.), A Handbook of Climate Change and India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.


Dubash, N. K., R. Khosla, U. Kelkar and S. Lele, 2018, "India and Climate Change: Evolving Ideas and Increasing Policy Engagement", Annual Review of Environment and Resources.


Lele, S. and J. Krishnaswamy, 2019, “Climate Change and India's Forests” in N. Dubash (Ed.), India in a Warming World, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.


Lélé, S. & Richard Norgaard, 2005, "Practicing interdisciplinarity", Bioscience, 55(11): 967-975.