Anil Joshi creates economic opportunities and improves rural livelihoods by helping rural communities leverage their natural resources, while, simultaneously, protecting the health of the natural environment. Anil and his organization, Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation (HESCO) cater their approach to address the needs of the specific community of focus, and the local resources available.
One successful example is the use of the Latana Weed as a material to manufacture furniture. Harvest of Latana benefits the environment by controlling the invasive weed’s harm to the ecosystem while the manufacture and sale of furniture provides a source of income for rural villages. Anil furthers the economic benefit to the local community by employing innovative marketing strategies to replace imported products at local markets with locally made goods. This initiative is in response to the widening income gap between urban and rural populations.
To date, HESCO has helped over 10,000 villages develop local enterprises taking up beekeeping, fruit processing, and grain processing, to name a few. It has delivered training in post-harvesting technologies to about 500 villages to maximize the use of their natural resources such as local fruits, aromatic plants, and botanical fibers. HESCO initiated WISE (Women's Initiative for Self-Employment), which serves as a platform for about one thousand women from all over the mountains of Uttarakhand to generate employment and marketing opportunities for income generation in their villages.
HESCO has brought hydropower electricity to 2000 villages through construction of watermills to capitalize on the many streams of the Himalayas. The organisation’s work has expanded throughout India, with programs adopted in ten states, as far north as Assam, and south to Kerala. The programs developed by HESCO are now being adopted by state and national development agencies. In addition to development of local enterprises, HESCO engages in applied research and advocacy to strengthen the knowledge on appropriate technology and leverage this knowledge for advocacy with the government.
Recently, HESCO has begun advocating for adoption of a “Growth Environmental Product,” (GEP) as a growth measure to be used in tandem with conventional Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GEP incorporates more socially and environmentally minded metrics including, annual forest growth, soil quality, air quality, and water quantity and quality—indicators that are excluded under the standard GDP growth metric. With the state of Uttarakhand having already accepted the proposal of HESCO to incorporate GEP as a measure of growth, HESCO plans to increase it’s adoption throughout the whole of India.
Note: This was updated in December, 2013. Read on for the ELECTION profile