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Jagdeesh Rao Puppala

Chief Executive, Foundation for Ecological Security

Skoll Awardee


A practitioner from the very beginning, Jagdeesh began his professional life in 1986 working with rural communities in Andhra Pradesh in South India with a strong leaning towards the interrelated issues of poverty and environmental degradation and the need for ‘systems thinking’ to work on issues at the interface of ecology, society and economy.

Jagdeesh took on his currently held role as Chief Executive of the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) in 2001. By embedding three fundamental tenets – nature’s potential, secure tenure and community institutions matched by strategic action on building local capacities and leveraging public funds, Jagdeesh helped FES open up, embrace institutional diversity, capitalize on the changes in the external environment, reinforce the mission and evolve a wide range of strategies to improve scale, scope and influence.

At a larger level, Jagdeesh is working with national and international organizations to locate community lands and governance in the discourse on land rights, which is mostly steered towards individual ownership. He advocates for a 'Commons' paradigm for ecological governance instead of relying excessively on centralized and individualized approaches to managing shared natural resources. He also believes that 'Commons need Commons' as a mutually reinforcing system. H and that it is only in the coming together of ‘Commons’ from different domains such as knowledge systems, property laws, urban governance, digital technology and so on, that those who are currently most disenfranchised, socially, economically and politically, are empowered as equal members of society. And that human society lives in harmony with Nature.

His current areas of interest include conservation planning (of forests and water), small holder agriculture decentralized governance, biodiversity informatics, history of science and law, and systems thinking.