Dr. Sharachchandra Lele

Dr. Sharachchandra Lele's picture
Dr. Sharachchandra Lele
Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Policy & Governance

Research Interests

Sharad's research interests include conceptual issues in sustainable development and sustainability, and analyses of institutional, economic, ecological, and technological issues in forest, energy, and water resource management. He attempts to incorporate strong interdisciplinarity in his own research and teaching, which straddles ecology, economics, and political science.


Sharachchandra Lele (aka Sharad Lele) has a broad interest in resource and environmental issues, which began while he was doing his B.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in IIT Bombay. He moved to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, where he completed an M.S. in Systems Science in 1987, working on the optimal sizing of hydropower projects incorporating the energy and economic costs of land submergence. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley, where he completed a Ph.D. in Energy & Resources in 1993 on the definition, measurement and causal analysis of sustainability in forest use in a part of the Western Ghats forests. He then spent a year at the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, as a Senior Research Associate and a year at Harvard University as a Bullard Fellow for Forest Research, before returning to Bangalore to work in collaboration with the Institute for Social & Economic Change, and eventually to being involved in the founding of CISED in 2001. He was Coordinator of CISED for 8 years, and following CISED’s merger with ATREE, he is now with ATREE.

Positions Held (post-PhD)

  • Senior Fellow and Convenor, Centre for Environment & Development, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, 2009-till date.
  • Senior Fellow & Coordinator (and also co-founder), Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Environment and Development, Bangalore, 2001-2009.
  • Project Director, ISEC-Pacific Institute project on "Ecology, Economics, & Institutions of Forest Use in the Western Ghats", Institute for Social & Economic Change, Bangalore, 1995-2001.
  • Fellow, Biodiversity, Forestry & Rural Energy Division, Tata Energy Research Institute, 1995-1998.
  • Visiting Fellow, Harvard Institute for International Studies, Harvard University, Aug.1994-Jan 1995.
  • Senior Research Associate, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, Oakland, U.S.A., June 1993-June 1994. 


  • Royal Bank of Canada Water Fellowship, Water Institute, University of Waterloo, Jan-Feb 2016
  • Andrew Mellon Foundation Visiting Lecturership, Allegheny College, USA, January 2013.
  • Charles Wallace Trust for India Visiting Fellowship, Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge University, Lent 2011.
  • Fulbright-Nehru Environmental Leadership fellowship, hosted at Stanford University, Fall 2010.
  • Yusuf E Hamied Visiting Lecturer, Cambridge-India Partnership, Cambridge University, Summer 2010.
  • Semester-At-Sea Interport Lecturership, 2007
  • Bullard Fellowship for Forest Research, Harvard University, 1994-95.
  • American Institute for Indian Studies Junior Fellowship, 1989-90
  • Theodore & Edith Brown Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 1988-89
  • Energy & Resource Group Hewlett Foundation Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 1987-88 


  • Paper Srinivasan et al. 2015 won the “2015 Jim Dooge award for the best paper in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Science (HESS)” from the European Geophysical Union

  • Paper Heller et al. 2012 won 3rd place in “ERDAS Award for Best Scientific Paper in Remote Sensing for 2012” from ASPRS

  • Runner-up, Environment Category, 2006 World Technology Awards
  • Citation Classic, World Development (paper titled “Sustainable Development: A critical review”)

  • I.I.T. Bombay Silver Medal for standing first in Electrical Engineering class of 1984 

Research Grants Obtained

  • Climate Change and Water programme, International Development Research Centre, Canada, 2012-15 (PI).
  • Natural Environment Research Council, UK, ESPA Programme, 2011-2013 (PI)
  • Ford Foundation, Environment Programme, 2008-2010 (PI)
  • Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust, Western India Livelihoods Programme, 2006-2008 (co-PI)
  • Ford Foundation, Poverty and NRM Programme, 2005-2007 (co-PI)
  • WaterAid India, IWRM research grant, 2005-2006 (co-PI)
  • Ford Foundation, Institution Development Grant, 2001-2004 and 2005-2008 (PI).
  • South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE), 2004- 2006 (PI)
  • Indian Space Research Organization, RESPOND programme, 2005-2007 (PI).
  • International Development Research Centre, South Asia programme, 2004-2007 (co-PI).
  • UNESCO International Hydrological Programme, 2004-2006 (PI).
  • UNESCO-Ford Foundation, 2002-2006 (PI).
  • Winrock International India, Small Grants Programme, 2002 (PI).
  • MacArthur Foundation, World Environment & Resources Program, 1998-2001 (co-PI).
  • National Remote Sensing Agency: IRS-1C Pilot Project Programme: 1997-98 (PI).
  • MacArthur Foundation, World Environment Resources Program, 1995-98 (PI).
  • U.S.Man & the Biosphere Grant, 1990-92
  • Osborn Foundation (WWF-US) Forestry Policy Grant, 1990-92
  • Ford Foundation Social Forestry Research Grant, 1989-90

Teaching Experience

  • Teaches Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Research in ATREE PhD programme; supervising/co-supervising 5 PhD students.
  • Taught modules on environmental change and governance in ISEC and ATREE PhD programme.
  • Lectured on Environmental Economics, Environmental Governance, Sustainable Development, Sustainability, Forest Management, Forest Law in various training programmes across India
  • Designed & conducted CISED Short-Term Course on Environment & Rural Development (3 rounds), Social Science for Natural Scientists (2009), Social Science for Conservation Biologists (2014), Water & Society Summer School (2015).
  • Guided and Assessed PhD students at ISEC & ATREE. 

Books/Edited Books

  • Lele, S., E. Brondizio, J. Byrne, G. Mace and J. Martinez-Alier, 2018, Rethinking Environmentalism: Linking Justice, Sustainability, and Diversity, MIT Press, USA (in press). 
  • Lele, S. and A. Menon (Eds.) (2014). Democratizing Forest Governance in India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
  • Menon, A., P.Singh, E.Shah, Lele, S., S. Paranjape, and K.J. Joy. (2007). Community-Based Natural Resource Management: Issues and Cases from South Asia, Sage India. [pdf] [Doodha Toli case study]
  • Krishnaswamy, J., Lele, S., and R. Jayakumar (Eds.) (2006). Hydrology and Watershed Services in the Western Ghats of India: Effects of land use and land cover change, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi. 
  • Lélé, S., G. Kadekodi and B. Agrawal (Eds.) (2002). Interdisciplinarity in Environmental Research: Concepts, Barriers and Possibilities, Indian Society for Ecological Economics, New Delhi. For ordering, please mail to: [INSEE].


Panel Discussion

Press Coverage
















People Page

Journal Articles

Löfqvist, Sara Kleinschroth, Fritzcc Bey, Adia, Lele S et all... 2022 How Social Considerations Improve the Equity and Effectiveness of Ecosystem Restoration BioScience, biac099
Soumya Balasubramanya, Nicholas Brozović, Ram Fishman, Sharachchandra Lele, Jinxia Wang 2022 Managing irrigation under increasing water scarcity Agricultural Economics. 2022;1–9.

Book Chapters

Lele, S. and J. Krishnaswamy. , 2019 , Climate Change and India's Forests. In: India in a Warming World , India in a Warming World
Srinivasan Veena, Sharachchandra Lele , 2018 , Managing river basins: Re-examining the biophysical basis , India’s Water Futures

Discussion Papers

Amit John kurien's picture

Amit John kurien

  • Ph.D. student
  • Forests & Governance
Anuja Anil Date's picture

Anuja Anil Date

  • Ph.D. Student
  • Forests & Governance