Environmentalist Sunita Narain to lecture at ASU March 27

Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability welcomes writer and environmentalist Sunita Narain, who will speak on "Environmentalism of the Poor vs. Environmentalism of the Rich" on Wednesday, March 27. The event, which is part of the Institute’s Wrigley Lecture Series, will take place from 5:00 until 6:30 p.m. at the Tempe campus in Lattie F. Coor Hall, room 170.

Narain was named one of the world’s 100 Public Intellectuals three times by the U.S. journal, Foreign Policy. She is currently the director general of India’s Centre for Science and Environment and publisher of Down to Earth magazine. Narain’s interests include equality, clean water, food safety, wildlife conservation, and climate change alleviation. Climate change, she says, is the world’s biggest issue today.

“Climate change should worry us all because the impacts of changing weather patterns will hit every part of the world – rich and poor,” she says. “We are still looking for very small solutions to what is clearly an large issue spiraling out of control.”

Narain began to research and write about climate change in the ‘80s when she partnered with Anil Agarwal, who many believe kickstarted India’s awareness of climate change, at the Centre for Science and Environment. Narain says Agarwal is her biggest influence.

“Anil Agarwal was a man who I think was very ahead of his time in terms of thinking and in terms of understanding both the nature of the challenges, as well as the solutions we need to seek,” she says. “He was also someone who taught me that most of all, we need to remain true to our ideas and we must keep learning as we do our work.”

Narain’s Wrigley Lecture will argue the need of a new environmentalism – one that recognizes the tension and difference between environmentalism of poor and the rich in order to alleviate climate change. Narain says this new environmentalism will lead to sustainable development that is less demanding on our natural resources, less harmful to the environment, and inclusive of all living things.

This will not be easy, Narain says. Unfortunately, climate change impacts hit hardest on those who contribute the least to climate change. Less-equipped nations are without funds and resources to implement carbon-mitigating policy and regulation.

“In India, we have few challenges and but they affect the poorest people of the country,” Narain says.  “These challenges are often difficult because we are looking for solutions in societies that are still poor, where affordability is a major issue. Sustainability, therefore, becomes very difficult to argue and to practice.”

Despite this, Narain is hopeful.

“I think this challenge gives us the commitment to push for change.”

RSVP for Narain’s lecture available here: http://sustainability.asu.edu/events/rsvp/sunita-narain.

About the Wrigley Lecture Series

Named after the Global Institute of Sustainability’s benefactor, Julie Ann Wrigley, the Wrigley Lecture Series occurs at least once a month and features world-renowned thinkers and problem-solvers that engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges. View upcoming Wrigley Lectures here.