Dr Rashneh Pardiwala is based in Mumbai, India. Unassuming and level-headed despite academic, musical and sporting gifts, she is now devoting time and talents to the application of environmental science, following her graduation.
The Vice-Chancellors’ Award enabled her to finish her doctoral research. No corrections were needed to her thesis, which was awarded a distinction. Rashneh has worked on the loss of carbon dioxide from heather-moorland soils, using a site near Edinburgh which is fairly typical of the peaty spoils which are widespread in northern Britain. The context of her work is the impact of climate warning on the flux of CO2 from the soil to the atmosphere. (Letter from Prof. John Grace, Edinburgh University – 11.10.2000)
The Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE)
When Rashneh returned to India she set up the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) with Katy Rustom in December 2002.
CERE is a non-profit organization working to promote environmental sustainability through formal education, corporate partnerships, public awareness campaigns and legal advocacy. CERE has successfully completed many rural and urban, national-level research and development projects, been consultants to different government departments, helped integrate environmental education into mainstream curriculum, published 27 titles and produced a short film on Global Warming.
In 2005, Rashneh was recognized as one of the youngest ‘Social Entrepreneur for Change’ and was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship. In 2009 she was selected as one of Asia’s 21 Young Leaders and conferred the Asia Society Fellowship. In 2011, she was selected from India as a participant at the Swedish Institute Management Program with Corporate Responsibility and sustainability as an all-embracing focus.
Unlike some other Indian colleagues who avoid corporate contact, she is working with large concerns without compromising her principles – after closely examining the proposed brief. This is a similar role to that selected by Jonathon Porritt, recently chair of the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, and evident in the magazine Green Futures, published by the Forum for the Future which he co-founded.
Journey to Ladakh
In 2009 on an adventurous 21-day road trip to Mumbai to Leh-Ladakh in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, returning via Kargil-Srinagar-Jammu-Punjab-Delhi-Mumbai, Rashneh drove 6,714 kms across 11 passes to traverse the Great Himalayan, Zangzkar and Karakoram Ranges and reach surrounding valleys on roads in terrible condition due to snow and rain.
With other environmental scientists she was travelling to a convention covering a wide range of topics, from ecology and wildlife to culture and traditional practices. Though networking at the conference was invaluable she believes that she gained even more knowledge in the wilderness of Ladakh amongst locals.
The group were able to study existing rural environmental models such as solar architecture, which is making a comeback to the region as more and more people are reverting to the traditional use of indigenous materials which keep the dwellings warm when the weather is cold and cool when it is warm outside – unlike reinforced concrete structures.
Earlier this year: a Carbon Map & Cap Conference
For the past 3 years, CERE has been helping multinational corporations and small businesses facilitate the move towards becoming environmentally responsible and sustainable companies with a new clean and green business model for the future. Katy [far left in picture] reports informally on their latest venture, a Carbon Map & Cap Conference.
The conference was completely successful and totally glitch free and meaningful. We had experts who gave every kind of green input needed to make an office sustainable but with a financial focus – so for example our renewable energy expert showed how an office can be run without paying any electricity bills by investing in a wind turbine in Maharashtra. Fortunately or unfortunately it made everyone think that CERE is a BIG organisation with a hundred people working and so on. And post the conference, we are being flooded with even more requests and tons of work!
The core team of CERE at the one-day conference, which was attended by over 140 delegates from over 50 companies, government departments and organisations across India.
All work and no play? Not so, some swimming, playing the cello, and – seen here – happily relaxing with two of her nephews at the beach.