Dr. Ganesan Balachander

Part I: Experience in Social Sector Development

August 2012 – date: Director, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Bangalore. Responsible for strategy development and priority setting, resource mobilization and communications. Also for leading ATREE’s programme initiatives and managing all functions pertaining to internal governance and administration.

March 2010 – to date: Director on the recently constituted Consortium Board of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) overseeing consortium research programmes across the 15 CG centres in the system. Chair of the Science-Programmes-Partnership committee of the Board

January 2011 to date: Research and field visits in connection with a proposed book Contested Domains, which analyses how contemporary society values biodiversity and ecosystem services in the context of economic development imperatives in India and makes recommendations for sustainable use of natural resources.

June 2003-Dec 2008: Representative for South Asia, The Ford Foundation, New Delhi Provided strategic direction and leadership to the Foundation’s grant making in various fields of development and managed the largest overseas office of the Foundation.

  • Initiated a mountain and coastal zone initiative addressing livelihood as well as ecological needs
  • Promoted a triple bottom line consideration of ecology, economy and equity in livelihood initiatives in dry lands
  • Started a “Young Leaders” initiative to promote social entrepreneurship
  • Helped design and manage several conferences, as well as inter-disciplinary brain storming sessions and workshops on cutting edge issues. Some examples:
    • Advancing Human Rights in collaboration with George Soros and Open Society Institute
    • Strengthening Social Protection in Asia, with IDS, University of Sussex
    • Strategies for promoting asset building among the marginalized communities with the Brookings Institute

September 2001-May 2003: Director, Asia Programs, The Mountain Institute, Washington, DC
Responsible for program development and project implementation in high priority mountain ecosystems in the Asian region, particularly in India, Nepal and China.

  • Implemented a portfolio of projects focused on conservation of biodiversity and culture through a decentralized management structure and collaborative partnerships
  • Action research, fund raising, and technical assistance in project design, feasibility assessment of conservation-linked enterprises, and participatory M&E

June 2000 – August 2001: Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer, Compatible Ventures Group, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington VA. Responsibilities included the following:

  • Providing technical assistance and financial oversight of compatible business ventures
  • Tracking new experiments and trends in the field of “green business” and helping to create innovative practices
  • Helped set up a Forest Bank designed to assist small landowners (<100 acres) manage timber harvest on a sustainable yield basis, with FSC certification

June 1999-May 2000: Consultant to the Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) Bangalore, an Indian NGO involved in the conservation of medicinal plants in India. Evaluated the feasibility of setting up a community-based and owned enterprise to process medicinal plants.

March 1996-April 1999: Biodiversity Conservation Network (BCN), a USAID- funded program for the Asia/Pacific region, managed by a consortium of WWF, WRI and TNC
November 1997-April 1999: Director, BCN, based in Manila.
July 1996- October 1997: Regional Director, BCN
Overall responsibility for providing strategic direction and management of the BCN program.

  • Monitoring and evaluation of the performance of activities in accomplishing program objectives
  • Capacity building of grantees in technical and managerial aspects of micro enterprise development and providing forward linkage to markets
  • Managing BCN staff at offices in Washington, Manila, Suva, Jakarta and New Delhi

1994/1995: Project Coordinator, University of Massachusetts, BR Hills project, India.
Responsible for the development of enterprise activities, and for the integration of the biological and enterprise components in a community-based conservation project in the Western Ghats of South India.

1993: Consultant to Appropriate Technology International (ATI), Washington, DC on the following assignments:

  • Provide policy advice for a Thailand gender-sensitive venture capital project
  • Develop a Business Plan for a non-timber forest product enterprise in West Kalimantan.
  • Evaluate a program for mass production of kapok seedlings for the re-vegetation of Java and improved potato varieties for farmers in North Sumatra.
  • Assess the economic viability of selected agricultural biotechnologies for resource poor farmers in co-operation with Grameen Agricultural Foundation, Bangladesh.


1995-1996: Post-doctoral fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
As a Bullard Fellow in Forest Research, I examined the sustainability of the extraction and trade of non-timber forest products in India, as well as the institutional and policy constraints hindering conservation and management.
1989-1995: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Doctoral degree in Ecology. Field research (April '89 - April '93) involved studying the interplay of ecology and economics in natural resource use in the Nilgiris biosphere reserve in South India.

Part II: Experience in Banking and Finance

1986-1988: Citibank, New York, U.S.A.
Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions, Northeast Division.

  • Responsible for strategic planning and annual budget of the Acquisitions Department
  • Conducting in-depth financial analysis of companies to be acquired by Citibank
  • Resigned in August 1988 to pursue full time studies in Ecology.

1981-1985: Marine Midland Bank, HSBC Group, New York, U.S.A.
Vice President, Corporate Planning and Development.

  • Evaluated companies to be acquired by Marine Midland
  • Conducted due diligence examination of companies

1979-1980: Citicorp Homeowners (a Citibank subsidiary), Southfield, Michigan, U.S.A.
Financial Analyst and Credit Scoring Manager.

  • Developed and monitored the credit scoring system
  • Trained staff in use of system
  • Reviewed the underwriting of the loan portfolio

1973-1977: Standard Chartered Bank
Credit Officer (1975-1977) Madras, India.

  • Evaluated loan proposals
  • Marketed bank products and services

Resigned in August 1977 to join the MBA program at Carnegie Mellon University.
Officer Trainee (1973 - 1974)

  • Underwent credit training in London, Rotterdam, Milan, New York and Zurich


1977-1979: Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Awarded MBA Degree. Majors: Finance and International Business.
1971-1973: Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. Awarded MS Degree in Physics
1967-1971: Loyola College, Madras University, Madras, India. Awarded BS Degree in Physics


2005: Distinguished Alumni award from Rutgers University, New Jersey
1998: Elected member of IUCN's Medicinal Plant Specialist Group.
1995-1996: Harvard University's Charles Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research.
1992-1993: Rutgers University's Louis Bevier Fellowship.
1991-1992: Conservation, Food and Health Foundation grant to study NTFPs.
1991-1992: Wildlife Conservation Society's grant to study disturbance.
1989-1991: WWF Osborn forestry policy grant to examine resource use
1968-1973: National Science Talent Scholarship awarded by Govt. of India


Consortium Board member, CGIAR, headquartered in Montpellier, France
Member, Board of Directors, Suri and Eda Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon
Chairman of the Board, Safe Harvest Pvt. Ltd
Chairman of the Board, Gram Mooligai Co. Pvt. Ltd


March 7, 2011: Lessons from six decades of philanthropic support for social development in India Article in Mint Philanthropy series, conceptualized by Rohini Nilekani
January 2008: A case for new institutions OpEd piece in Science January 11; Kamal Bawa, Ganesan Balachander and Peter Raven.
June 2004: IXth International Congress of Ethnobiology
Plenary address on Ethnobiology and Food Security, University of Kent at Canterbury.
September 2002: Tapping the Green Market Management and Certification of Non-timber forest products; A chapter on an NTFP from Asia, Emblica. Shanley, Pierce, Laird and Guillen, Earthscan.
December 2001: A systematic test of an enterprise strategy for community-based biodiversity conservation; Salafsky, Cauley, Balachander et al. Conservation Biology pg 1585-1595 Vol 15 #6
July 2001: Organized a symposium Harnessing Market Forces for Biodiversity Conservation. International Conference of the Association for Tropical Biology, Bangalore
July 1998: BCN symposium at the Society for Conservation Biology meeting at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Myths and Realities of Enterprise-based Approaches to Conservation, July 13-16.
February 1998: Can Community-based Enterprises promote Conservation of Biodiversity: Issues and Challenges. Paper in Proceedings of the International Conference of Medicinal Plants. IDRC.
November 1997: Case study presentation at the USAID-sponsored Lessons without Borders: Local Problems, Global Solutions - Rural Enterprise Conference, Knoxville, Tennessee.
September 1997: South Pacific Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas, Pohnpei, FSM. BCN: Evaluating an Enterprise Approach to Conservation.
May 1995: Fire, Grazing, and Extraction of Non-Timber Forest Products in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve, Southern India: Implications for Forest Policy, Sustainable Use and Local Economies. Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University, New Jersey.
August 1994: UNEP conference on 'Valuation of Environment and Natural Resources' and 'The Use and Application of Economic Policy Instruments for Sustainable Development'.
September 1993: Biodiversity and economic development - can they co-exist? Paper in Proceedings of the International Wildlife Management Congress - San Jose, Costa Rica.
May 1993: Extraction of non-timber forest products in Mudumalai, India. Economic Botany 47(3): 268-274.
May 1992: Harvard Institute for International Development workshop in Bangkok, on methods for valuing the non-timber benefits of forests and measuring the sustainability of non-timber extraction.
November-December 1991: Smithsonian Institution's Wildlife Conservation and Management Training Program at Mikumi National Park, Tanzania, which focused on field methods, data analysis, wildlife conservation, and management problems and solutions.