South Asian Forum for Environment [SAFE] (www.safeinch.org), a regional civil society organization registered in India under Trust Act 1882, is spearheading interventions in sustainable environmental development in the South Asian ecoregion, since June 2004. SAFE is committed to working towards community-based pro-poor climate solutions through adaptive mitigation and inclusive approaches, leaving no one behind. Nationally, SAFE is accredited by the Planning Commission, Govt. of India, and as well M/o Env. Forest & Climate Change, Central Social Welfare Board, and National Council of Sustainable Development in India. SAFE has the onus to lead the National Mission on Renewable Energy and also as implementing agency for the National Water Mission of India.
Major domains in the rural development sector that SAFE has engaged with a multi-pronged holistic approach, pertain to climate resilient agriculture, renewable energy, water resource management, habitat conservation and restoration, rejuvenation of ecosystem services, biodiversity, and alternative livelihood for the marginal commons. In the urban sector, it has been working on integrated solid waste management (ISWM), reduction of urban heat-island effects, urban agrobiodiversity, public biodiversity registers etc. SAFE has also embarked on awareness and policy advocacy by advancing ‘Biorights of Commons’ as an economic conservation paradigm that was showcased in the 4th TEEB report of UNEP and in the 12th plan document of Govt. of India.
Headquartered in Kolkata, India, SAFE works through its regional offices and centres in Sunderbans, and Purulia in West Bengal, Guwahati, in Assam, Dibang, in Arunachal Pradesh, Bhitarkanika in Odisha, Deogarh in Jharkhand, Sehersa, in Bihar.
SAFE works closely with 57 regional partners that include, government institutions, civil societies, academic institutes, research organizations, hospitals, training centers, and more. The organization is currently working in partnership with numerous national and international partners, on multiple and interlinked areas addressing to climate and poverty crisis in the Indian eco-region. SAFE is engaged with over 63 local Panchayats, and 17 Municipalities, in the spectrum of areas the organization works.
SAFE is equally engaged in implementing transnational projects in South and South-eastern Asia that includes interventions on habitat restoration, emission abatement, and climate preparedness in Bhutan, Bangladesh Nepal, and as well in Thailand & Philippines. This has earned the organization a global experience with updated technologies and nature-based solutions. To facilitate a knowledge economy, SAFE is widely connected to several global networks and institutions in the climate maven sectors of sustainability and development, some of these are CANSA, APAN, APN-GCR, CGAIR, IPSI, GEF-CSO council etc. SAFE has accomplished several national and international awards that include awards from FICCI, CII, UNDESA, UNEP, UNFCCC, GDN, and most recently we have been the finalists in UN Equator Award and Ashden Award UK.
SAFE promotes a comprehensible implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development. SAFE works at the science and society interface on the climate crisis, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution, waste, and cyclones-disasters, and at the societal interface creating livelihood opportunities through building enhanced capacities, and providing clean water and health services to marginal communities.
Forest and biodiversity conservation has been a prime area of intervention of SAFE since its inception. It has extensively worked on geospatial scenario planning and forest fire management in Eastern Himalayan terrain under the aegis of ICIMOD, USAID, and NASA (https://un-spider.org/category/tagging/safe). In collaboration with the International Partnership for Satoyama Initiative of IGES-Japan, SAFE is working on the endangered Black Necked crane (Grus nigricollis) habitat in the Eastern Himalayas (http://www.speciesonthemove.com/3252). It has embarked its work on several other endangered species like the Hoolock gibbons of the north-eastern Indian rainforest and horseshoe crabs in the deltaic coasts of India and Bangladesh. SAFE in collaborative partnership with the organization RENEW in Bhutan, with the support of the India Bhutan Foundation, IBF developed a sustainable livelihood paradigm for the common women in Bhutan by instituting cottage enterprises for paper and textile recycling through capacity building and technology cooperation as a climate-smart opportunity for empowering urban common women based on habitat conservation and solid waste management.
SAFE under the aegis of the Asia Pacific Network, APN for Global Change Research of Japan had the opportunity to implement research projects on agricultural waste management, crop calendaring, algae cultivation, and mapping of the ecosystem services. SAFE has been awarded the UNEP 10FYP award on sustainable production and conservation education to be implemented in Bangladesh and India. It is also collaborating with IWMI, Sri Lanka for research interventions on periurban wetlands in India and Bangladesh. Community governance in water resource budgeting, participatory water regime management, and commons property rights advocacy are SAFE’s core competency area and its interventions in the water domain under the aegis of the World Bank Development Marketplace and HSBC International Water Program has won the UN Water for Life Award in 2015. SAFE has already taken initiatives in transboundary water issues in South Asian riparian and represented the issues in 44th GEF-CSO Council Meeting in Washington DC (http://www.iisd.ca/gef/council44/20jun.html) in 2013. Most recently SAFE has been awarded by the Global Development Network for the most innovative development project and has also won the Inequality Challenge Award from GIZ Germany.
SAFE with a legacy of 18 years of commitment to the environment and sustainable development has a commendable outreach connecting more than 25 thousand households of marginal agrarian communities and nearly 10 thousand households of urban poor in the Indian ecoregion. SAFE administration, run by a seven-member Board of Directors, has a facility accommodating 16 senior professionals, 10 mid-level officials and program coordinators, and 25-30 volunteers and interns. The governing council of SAFE is at the administrative apex of the organization with 9 trustees entrusted with policy planning.
SAFE is an equal opportunity non-profit organization with support infrastructure of an established ecology field lab, GIS-RS lab, Seed bank, Publication & Reprography department with a Library, training room with video conferencing facility, community skill training units, and community health centres.