Jagdeesh Rao

Senior Advisor

In a career spanning over 35 years, Jagdeesh has focussed on the conservation of natural resources, the interrelated issues of poverty and environmental degradation, and on systems thinking at the interface of ecology, society, and economy. He was part of the founding team of the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) and served as its first Chief Executive from 2001 till July 2020. Under his leadership, FES was awarded the Times of India Social Impact Award (Environment category, 2012), Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom Award on Commons (Best practitioner, 2013), United Nation’s Land for Life award (2013), Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship (2015) and HCL Foundation’s Best NGO award (Environment category, 2016).

He then transitioned his role within FES to an Anchor and Curator. As a Curator, he worked towards influencing policy, advancing knowledge exchange and building a larger constituency for the Promise of Commons initiative. He has been working with national and international organizations on drawing policies around land rights and providing individual ownership to communities. After stepping down from FES in 2021, he joined the Omidyar Network, India as an entrepreneur in residence.

He is a Skoll awardee for social entrepreneurship (2015), a Henry Arnhold (Mulago) Conservation Fellow (2017) and a Senior Ashoka Fellow (2021).

Areas of Professional Interest and Expertise

  • Commons, decentralized governance

  • Conservation and Land use planning

  • Systems thinking and systems change