Sushmita Mandal is a Senior Research Fellow for Water, Food and Ecosystems at SEI Asia. She joined SEI in March 2022.
Sushmita is an applied researcher – manager with two decades of experience of working on environment, conservation, and development issues. This includes working on climate change adaptation, common pool resource governance, transboundary ecosystem management, public policy, gender and rights-based approaches. In her research, Sushmita engages with conceptual approaches such as conviviality and decoloniality, in an effort to foreground worldviews and knowledge systems from the majority world.
She has designed, implemented, and coordinated ecosystem governance programmes at the grassroots, as well as national and international scales. This ranges from participatory research on cultural rights of indigenous communities in the Western Ghats in India; facilitating hydro-diplomacy in the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basin; transboundary conservation of the Hilsa fish (Tenualosa ilisha) in India and Bangladesh, and advocacy on groundwater governance with policymakers across eight countries in South Asia. Sushmita brings a cross-scalar understanding of conservation capacity and governance, especially with a focus on gender and equity issues. She brings practice-based expertise on interdisciplinary research and setting up of participatory and community led monitoring protocols for sustainability projects. She has nurtured diverse and multigenerational teams across wide geographies.
Sushmita has worked with leading conservation and development organisations in India, such as the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES), and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE). She has also worked in the regional teams of international organisations such as IUCN, International Water Association (IWA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF).
She has a MPhil in Conservation Leadership (Dept. of Geography) from the University of Cambridge and MA in Social Work (with specialisation in Urban and Rural Community Development) from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India.