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Founder President & Resident Director

E-mail : harjjumend@gmail.com


Along with acting as President & Resident Director of The Grassroots Institute, Dr. Hasrat Arjjumend is associated (in honorary capacities) as Senior Fellow at Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal (Canada), as Visiting Fellow at Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University of Ukraine, Kharkiv (Ukraine).

Educationally, he attained Postdoc in Environmental Law from Université de Montréal Faculté de Droit, Québec (Canada), PhD in International Studies (International Biodiversity Governance), PG Diploma in Environmental Law, MPhil in Natural Resource Management, MSc in Environmental Science, MA in Public Administration, ExeMBA and BSc Hons in Bioscience. Additionally, he received advanced practical training from the UK, Sweden, Thailand, Russia, India, the Netherlands and the USA.

He founded the Grassroots Institute in 2005 in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, India. Ever since he was instrumental in developing the institution in all respect. He successfully evolved and anchored capacity building programs, research, journal publication and networking activities. He has carried forward the institutional building, partnerships and strategic planning and management at global level while enhancing the organizational portfolio and enriching the leadership.

His first significant study was his MPhil dissertation work in 1998-99. He wrote a comprehensive critique of nature conservation policies worldwide. It led to denotification of a wildlife sanctuary in India for interests of farmers/people. It was first incidence in the conservation history of India when a protected area was denotified for undoing the displacement of local inhabitants. Furthermore, during the past two decades, he completed multiple landmark studies and significant fieldwork focused on Indigenous people and their issues in Asia, as well as comparative studies on a global basis, culminating in his PhD work, which encompassed the evaluation of the extent of space, recognition, participation and involvement for/of Indigenous people not only in international law (Nagoya Protocol) making, but also in domestic ABS (access and benefit sharing) law making & implementation processes. As the biocultural rights of Indigenous people are key to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the domestic ABS laws require reorientation to be sufficiently effective in translating the spirit of international ABS laws. As a result, benefit-sharing processes (as per 3rd objective of CBD) and biopiracy of traditional knowledge and bioresources of Indigenous people cannot be checked effectively. He discerned and amplified that adequate participation and involvement of Indigenous peoples and local communities during the crafting of both the Nagoya Protocol and its corresponding domestic ABS legislation, had been lacking across the processes. His work brought this serious issue to the fore and debates have started within and outside CBD forums. Such a success added to progressive discourses towards advocating and asserting for Indigenous rights, dignity and self-determination. His current and future research direction incorporate the interface of customary law and institutions, Indigenous rights and biocultural resources. National policies and legislation must give more prominence to the customary laws and traditional institutions of Indigenous peoples or local communities managing conservation areas, as well as acknowledging their rights to self-governance and self-determination.

Along with the professional work, he has carried out a significant amount of training/teaching and writing/publishing. He has taught a variety of courses; to name but a few: Agriculture and Ecology, Organic Farming Systems, Governance of Land & Water Commons, Development of Land Resources, Watershed Development in Arid Zones, Water Resources Management, Participatory Forest Management, Grasslands & Rangeland Management, Environmental Governance, Research Methods & Techniques, Natural Resource Management, and Urban Sustainability. These courses constituted required milestones in the core ‘natural resource management’ syllabus. As an engaged scholar using interdisciplinary approaches, he seeks to provide experiential learning opportunities that not only encourage personal development, but also the intercultural thinking that best informs global perspectives. To this end, being a trainer/teacher is the ultimate opportunity to inspire, empower, and provide transformative experiences for students. His teaching philosophy is grounded in his life experiences; heis a self-made person with diverse life experiences in the Third World that he integrates into classroom content. As a trainer/teacher, he emphasizes the mutual benefits of engaged scholarship and the development of an individual’s social, emotional, intellectual, and creative well-being. This includes taking risk, thinking outside-the-box, and providing a passionate and fulfilling learning experience. Additionally, as an educator and researcher, his career has been centered on being a change-agent, advocating for solutions. Through training/teaching, he considers that heis transferring to youths and students not only knowledge, but also an energy that they may retain to transform their lives. Be it a science subject, policy topic or societal reality there is a lot to share with the students/participants. Using participatory learning methods, he considers training/teaching as a source of empowerment, transformation and leadership.

As a change agent, he set in a few exceptional model accomplishments. During 2008-11, in the capacity of Project Director of EU-supported IEUPC Education Project, he created unique procedures, processes, systems, institutions and leaderships that resulted empowerment of urban poor families in 3 cities for educating girl children and female youths. The exemplary work received UNESCO recognition. Young Citizens Leadership initiative was exceptional. Later during 2013-16, he organized pastoralist communities by using Pasture Land Policies and Legal Provisions provided in Agrarian & Local Governance Laws. In the capacity of Dean/Sr. Manager at Foundation for Ecological Security, he nurtured 1017 community collectives (institutions) to liberate about 30,000 hectares of pasturelands (commons) from clutches of powerful elites, and institutional ownership of pastoral communities had been ensured. Liberating lands from land grabbers was not that easy. It was thrilling, but peace-giving large-scale work that brought meaningful change in governance patterns of natural resources impacting livelihoods of poor mass in India’s desert zone. In addition to these two most commendable works, he used to be People-Centred Advocacy Campaigner from 1996 till 2012, apart from a popular writer journalist. His preferred array of interventions, especially from 2005 to 2016, revolved around building the Stewardship among youths. He enabled thousands of youths who honed their leading capabilities with distinct vision and high-energy convictions.

Professionally, he possesses 27 years’ experience of research, training, teaching, field action and organizational management, dealing with multidisciplinary areas of Environment, Natural Resources, Governance, Development, and Indigenous Rights. In the past he served, inter alia, as Assistant Professor (Natural Resources & Environmental Management) at Ethiopian Civil Service University Addis Ababa, Dean/Sr.Manager at FES Prakriti Karyashala Rural College (Rajasthan Campus India), Executive Director of Grassroots India Trust, Project Director of EU-supported IEUPC Project, Senior Program Officer at Society for Participatory Research in Asia, Research Officer at NCHSE, Biologist at Wildlife Institute of India/Govt. of India, CCV Fellow at WWF-India. For over 15 years, he contributed as Visiting/Guest Faculty to several institutions in Indiaand Europe, apart from being a Consultant to leading NGOs. Having inherent capacities of evolving, building and developing the institutions, he acted as a leader of several people-centred initiatives & forums, and later devolved the systems after completion of institutionalization process.  Moreover, he was Commonwealth Fellow 2007 in England and Social-Impact Fellow 2008-10 in Mumbai, apart from being the recipient of UNESCO-Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation 2010 (Asia-Pacific), Chairman's Gold Medal (1997-98) for in MPhil Natural Resource Management (MRM), Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Scholarship (USA) 2007, and S.J. Jindal Trust Scholarship 1990-91. He has working exposure across half of India’s geography, and working/study exposure to East Africa, South Asia, South-East Asia, Scandinavia, West Europe, Russia & Siberia, and Canada. In his credit are about 176 publications of varied types.

Areas of Research Interest    
Governance of Natural Resources; Biodiversity Law and Governance; CBD/Nagoya Protocol and National ABS Laws in Various Countries; Resource Rights of Indigenous People; Customary Law & Indigenous Rights; Rangelands and Common Property Resources; ICCAs; Agroecology; Agrarian Laws of Microbial Products; Wetlands Conservation; Rights of Indigenous People; Land Rights; Agrobiodiversity Conservation; Forest Stewardship and Parks-People Interface; Community Institutions & Local Governance; Natural Resource Management; Participatory Rural Development; Environmental Issues.
Expert Areas of Teaching   : Natural Resource Management; Sustainability; Environmental Governance; Governance of Land & Water Commons; Ecology & Ecosystem Science; Environment Law & Policy; Governance of Natural Resources; Ecologically Sustainable Agriculture; Watershed Development in Arid Zones; Participatory Forest Management; Grasslands and Rangelands; Rural Development; Wildlife and Eco-Tourism; Mountain Environment & Conservation; Ecology of Society; Sociology of Development; Rural Society in India; Rural Community Development; Tribal Community Development; Sustainable Development; Research Methodology; Development Reporting; Communication for Development; Tribal Self-Governance
Expert Areas of Training   : Commons Governance and Development; Sustainable Development; Natural Resources Conservation in Mountains; Common Property Resources: Rights & Claims; Securing Common Lands;  Natural Resource Management; LEISA Agriculture & Organic Farming Systems; Water Use Efficiency; Land-Based & Forest-Based Livelihoods; Access & Benefit Sharing (ABS) of Biological Resources; Participatory Irrigation Management; Participatory Forest Management; People-Centred Biodiversity Conservation; Tribal Self-Governance; Project Management; Process Writing & Documentation; Case Study Writing; Advocacy & Development Communication; Participatory Action Research
Expert Areas of Field Action & Practice   : Natural Resource Management; Forest & Biodiversity Conservation; Sustainable Agriculture; Governance and Accountability; Community Institutions; Education & Capacity Building; Participatory Rural Development; Land-Based & Forest-Based Livelihoods Development; Human Rights to Food & Water; Rights of Indigenous People; Advocacy & Development Communication; Local Self-Governance & PESA.