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ISB, SRUTI and Vasundhara host a learning exchange on Forest Economy

ISB, SRUTI and Vasundhara host a two-day National Learning Exchange on India’s Forest Economy through secure tenure


ISB, SRUTI and Vasundhara host a learning exchange on Forest Economy

Indian School of Business (ISB), in partnership with Society for Rural, Urban & Tribal Initiative (SRUTI) and Vasundhara, hosted a two-day learning exchange on strengthening and building a robust & sustainable forest economy, anchored in secure tenure. This Forest Economy model is based on three pillars – security of tenure of local communities over forest landscapes, community-owned and women-led enterprises of scale that will enable economies of scale and aggregation and, direct market linkages between industry and community-owned enterprises. 

The Learning Exchange event hosted over 150 key representatives from the government, forest-based communities, industry, academia & research, civil society organizations, and NGOs, who interacted, deliberated, and networked to collaborate towards building a sustainable forest economy that will benefit the people, profits, and the planet.

Prof. Ashwini Chhatre, Executive Director – Bharti Institute of Public Policy (BIPP), Indian School of Business, shared, “I am delighted that this Learning Exchange has facilitated a first-of-its-kind active engagement of the key stakeholders of the forest economy – communities, industry, government, and civil society on a common and a neutral platform, that has led to several promising collaborative pathways.

Participants at the Learning Exchange, through dialogues and interactive sessions, discussed ways in which external stakeholders, especially government agencies and the private sector, can support forest-dependent communities and benefit from partnerships. The panellists also deliberated on the opportunity that the forest economy model anchored in secure tenure presents for creating synergy between environment and development. Conversations highlighted how forests have a central role to play as the world confronts the challenges of climate change, food security, and secure livelihoods and the importance of building ecosystems that are beneficial to the country, communities & forests.

The Learning Exchange ended on high notes with the closing session bringing together diverse pathways and perspectives and, with new partnerships & collaboration opportunities. The structured interactions led to several high-potential expressions of interest from multiple participating organizations and institutions in collaborating with ISB towards the vision for a sustainable and thriving forest economy, anchored in secure tenure.

Participation from the Industry at the Learning Exchange included senior representation  from AAK India, Shree Cement, BILT Graphic Paper & Products, Biofuel Circle, 3F Industries, HDFC Bank & Kotak Mahindra Bank. Participants from the Government included representatives from State Rural Livelihood Mission, Integrated Tribal Development Authority, the Forest Department, the District Administration, from multiple states. IIT Bombay, Centre for Policy Research were some of the other impactful organizations that participated. The Learning Exchange had immense participation and involvement from communities across the country; leaders of the federations of communities in districts of Chhota Banghal – Himachal Pradesh, Malkangiri & Kalahandi – Odsiha, Gadchiroli – Maharashtra, Narmada – Gujarat, & Dharamjaigarh – Chhattisgarh were some of the representatives at the Learning Exchange. 

ISB-BIPP is incubating pilots of the forest economy model, anchored in secure tenure, in three States – Jharkhand, Odisha & Himachal Pradesh. 

ISB-BIPP signed an MoU with the Jharkhand State Government last year to empower the State’s Forest economy. Process for operationalizing CFR Titles is well underway in pilot blocks of Jaldega, Bano & Kolebira of the Simdega district in Jharkhand. In parallel, ISB signed an MoU with AAK India, a Swedish-based plant-based oils company for direct market linkage of scale for forest-based raw material, such as sal seeds, between AAK India and community-owned enterprises, anchored in secure tenure. 

ISB-BIPP’s pilot in Kalimela block of Malkangiri district for operationalizing CFR Titles, enabling aggregation & community-based institutions and direct market linkage of scale for key forest products is ready to be scaled up and out. ISB signed a three-year MoU with Mission Shakti, Government of Odisha earlier this month for women empowerment and rural prosperity through forest-based livelihoods and the forest economy model anchored in secure tenure. This MoU is for six districts in the state of Odisha. 

ISB-BIPP’s pilot in Himachal Pradesh is operationalizing CFR titles in Pangi valley of Chamba district and is working with State Rural Livelihoods Mission and District Administration to enable community mobilization and collective action for building women-led competent community-based enterprises of scale. A closed-group Roundtable in Shimla earlier this year had IKEA, Dabur, HUL, AAK & ITC-AgriBusinessDivision participating in discussions with the state government stakeholders for exploring synergies in collaborating for a sustainable forest economy. 

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