Director, Environmental Sustainability and Inclusive Development

Summary

Through the past 20 years of research, development practice, and innovation, Hemant has championed the cause of  environmental sustainability and inclusive development. Growing up in the Nepal mountain and working across South Asia in his early careers, he has developed a deep passion for using the work of knowledge to improve the wellbeing of the communities in the Global South. With his cross-disciplinary educational background covering forestry, economics, and political science, he takes a problem centric view on academic knowledge generation. His work integrates applied research, policy analysis, community empowerment, and social entrepreneurship with a holistic view of change. He set up two influential think thanks and nurtured a community of action researchers who contributed to community based natural resources management in Nepal. He has advised international development agencies on community-based programs design. He divides his time between the academia (University of Canberra) and a research and development consulting firm Institute for Study and Development Worldwide (IFSD) in Sydney. He has published numerous papers on philosophy, principles, methodologies and practices of inclusive and sustainable development.  He is currently developing a Policy and Practice Lab methodology that can assist development professionals and action researchers to effectively use evidence, interactive learning, and community empowerment to influence development policy and practice.

Policy engagement and development impact

COVID-19 Pandemic has affected direct policy engagement and development impact activities.A sample of my recent/ongoing work include:

 

Australia

  • Co-founding of an association of Nepalese professionals in agriculture, forestry, and environment in Australia, with a a goal to foster Nepal-Australia exchange of lessons
  • Nepal-Australia exchange of urban water lessons for the Mayors of Nepal
  • Working with South Asian Diaspora in Australia to foster intercultural harmony and resilience in immigrant communities, including helping immigrant communities to present their voice to the Federal and State Governments
  • Providing expert advice to Australian government departments, universities and private sector on South Asian programs and activities

 

South Asia /Himalayas

  • Strategic advice to Nepal Policy Research Institute in designing and publishing a policy oriented Journal
  • Design and organisation of Himalayan Policy Lab (In partnership University of
  • Design and experimentation of urban water forum in India and Nepal (in partnership with Southasia Institute for Advanced Studies (SIAS) and Center for Ecology, Development and Research)
  • Coordination and moderation of a South Asia wide panel on urban water security in times of COVID-19
  • Organisation of urban water policy labs in Nepal
  • Contribution to Hindu-Kush Himalayan Assessment (coordinated by International Center for International Mountain Development)

 

Asia-Pacific

  • Contribution to policy on climate risk to water security across Asia and the Pacific
  • Contribution to UNESCO initiatives to foster water security in the Pacific through more effective science and evidence

Global

  • Contribution the global panel on science -policy interface on forest and food security (IUFRO)
  • Guest Editor, Water Special Issues on Climate Risks, and Engaged Research for Urban Water Management
  • Advisory board member for

Projects

  • Co-Principal Investigator, Governing Climate Resilient Futures: gender, justice and conflict resolution in resource management (JUSTCLIME), Swedish Research Council 
  • Co-Principal Investigator on Conflict, Violence and Environmental Change: Investigating resource governance and legitimacy in transitional societies (2019-2024)
  • Co-investigator  and policy component leader for a research project Enhancing food security and livelihoods from community forestry in the Hills of Nepal, a collaborative project of University of Adelaide, University of New South Wales and University Canberra, funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) (2019-2024)
  • Co-investigator for disaster justice research proejct in Nepal, a collaborative project between University of New South Wales and CARE (2018-19)
  • Principal Research Scientist (casual) for Common Wealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on policy and institutional analysis of river basin Nepal in Nepal (2018-19)
  • Co-investigator and policy component leader, Enhancing food security and livelihoods from community forestry in the hills of Nepal, Australian Center for International Agricultural Research September 2019 – August 2024
  • Co-investigatorr, Climate Adaptive Water Management Plans for Cities in South Asia (CAMPS), in association with University of New South Wales/Southasia Institute for Advanced Studies, funded by Canadian International Development Research Centre (2016-2019)
  • Conflict, Violence and Environmental Change: Investigating resource governance and legitimacy in transitional societies (CoVEC), in partnership wth Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, funded by Swedish Research Council (2016-2020)

Opinions and Media

Our take on Nepal’s current political transformation featured by Policy Forum. 
Disaster response published in The Conversation
The Himalayan Challenge featured by Kathmandu Post
NGOs, Knowledge, Accountability published by Kathmandu Post. 
River basin planning featured in Kathmandu Post
Conserving Himalayan foothills (churia) featured in Kathmandu Post

Scientific Publications

  • Ojha, Hemant, Kaustuv Raj Neupane, Chandra Lal Pandey, Vishal Singh, Roshan Bajracharya and Ngamindra Dahal (2020). “Scarcity Amidst Plenty: Lower Himalayan Cities Struggling for Water Security.” Water 12(2): 567. 
  • Foran, Tira, David J Penton, Tarek Ketelsen, Emily J Barbour, Nicola Grigg, Maheswor Shrestha, Louis Lebel, Hemant Ojha, Auro Almeida and Neil Lazarow (2019). “Planning in Democratizing River Basins: The Case for a Co-Productive Model of Decision Making.” Water 11(12): 2480.
  • Kovács, Eszter Krasznai, Hemant Ojha, Kaustuv R Neupane, Thomas Niven, Chetan Agarwal, Devendra Chauhan, Ngamindra Dahal, Kamal Devkota, Vijay Guleria and Tikeshwari Joshi (2019). “A political ecology of water and small-town urbanisation across the lower Himalayas.” Geoforum.
  • Ojha, Hemant, Eszter Kovacs, Kamal Devkota, Kaustuv Raj Neupane, Ngamindra Dahal and Bhaskar Vira (2019). “Local experts as the champions of water security in the Nepalese town of Dhulikhel.”
  • Nightingale, Andrea J, Lutgart Lenaerts, Ankita Shrestha, Pema Norbu Lama ‘Tsumpa’ and Hemant R Ojha (2019). “The Material Politics of Citizenship: Struggles over Resources, Authority and Belonging in the New Federal Republic of Nepal.” South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 42(5): 886-902.Aryal, K, H laudari, and H Ojha (2019) To What extent Nepal’s community forestry contributes to Sustainable Development Goals? An institutional interaction Perspective, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World EcologyOjha, H, U Regmi, Krishna K. Shrerstha, Naya Paudel, S Amatya, Anthony Zwi, and Ian Nuberg (2019). Improving science-policy interface: Insights from Policy Lab experiments in Nepal’s community forestry governance, Forest Policy and Economics.
  • Aryal, K, H laudari, and H Ojha (2019) To What extent Nepal’s Community Forestry contribute to Sustainable Development Goals? An Institutional Interaction Perspective, International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
  • Ojha, H; Dil Khatri, K K Shrestha, B Adhikari (under review, 2018) Living with the landslide: Investigating institutional limits to adaptation in the Nepal Himalayas; International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Pokharel, K; H Ojha, R Karki, D Acharya, (Under review) State-community relations and deliberative politics within federal forest governance in Nepal, Environmental Policy and Governance
  • Ojha, H and Ribot, J (under review, 2019). Overcoming Institutional Ambiguity in Democratic Decentralization, World Development
  • Ojha, H., T. Maraseni, A. Nightingale, B. Bhattarai and D. Khatri (2019). “Rescuing forests from the carbon trap.” Forest Policy and Economics101: 15-18.
  • Shrestha, U, AM Shrestha, S Aryal, Sujata Shrestha, MS Gautam, and HR Ojha(2019) Climate change in Nepal: a comprehensive analysis of instrumental data and people’s perceptions, Climatic Change
  • Shrestha, K.K., Bhattarai, B.and Ojha, H.R. (2019). Disaster Justice in Nepal’s Earthquake Recovery, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Nightingale, A. J., L. Lenaerts, A. Shrestha, P. N. L. Tsumpa and H. R. Ojha(2019). “The Material Politics of Citizenship: struggles over resources, belonging, citizenship and authority in the new Federal Republic of Nepal.” Journal of International Development Special Issue: State and Citizenship
  • Dahal, N., U. Shrestha, A. Tuitui and H. Ojha(2019). “Temporal Changes in Precipitation and Temperature and their Implications on the Streamflow of Rosi River, Central Nepal.” Climate 7(1): 3.
  • Ojha, H., P. Bhusal, N. S. Paudel, P. M. Thompson and P. Sultana (2018). “Turning conflicts into cooperation? The role of adaptive learning and deliberation in managing natural resources conflicts in Nepal AU – Ojha, Hemant R.” Climate Policy: 1-14.
  • Sapkota, P; R Keenan; and H Ojha. Co-evolving dynamics in a social-ecological system – Prospects for ecosystem-based adaptation in community forestry in the Middle hills of Nepal (under review). Regional Environmental Change
  • Sapkota, P., Keenan, R. J., & Ojha, H. R. (2018). Community institutions, social marginalization and the adaptive capacity: A case study of a community forestry user group in the Nepal Himalayas. Forest Policy and Economics, 92, 55-64. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2018.04.001
  • Khatri, D. B., Marquardt, K., Pain, A., & Ojha, H. (2018). Shifting regimes of management and uses of forests: What might REDD+ implementation mean for community forestry? Evidence from Nepal. Forest Policy and Economics, 92, 1-10. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.forpol.2018.03.005
  • Karki, R., Shrestha, K.K., Ojha, H. et al. Reframing Nepal’s community forestry for food security, Small-scale Forestry(2018) 17: 89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11842-017-9377-y
  • Ojha, H et al. climate change and disaster resilience: the case of landside in the Nepal Himalayas (under review). International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Khatri, D; A Pain, K Marquardt, HOjha. Shifting regimes of access and control on forests: What might REDD+ implementation mean for community forestry? Evidence from Nepal (accepted), Forest Policy and Economics
  • Ojha, H, Krishna K Shrestha, Yuba Raj Subedi, Racchya Shah, I. K. Nuberg, B. Heyojoo, Edwin D Cedamon, S. Tamang, K. P. Paudel, J. Rigg, Y. Malla and P. McManus (2017). Agricultural land underutilisation in the hills of Nepal: Investigating socio-environmental pathways of change. Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 53, July 2017, Pages 156-172
  • Satyal, P., Krishna K Shrestha, H. Ojha, V. Vira and J. Adhikari. ‘A New Himalayan Crisis? Exploring Transformative Resilience Pathways’ (2017). Environmental Development
  • Sapkota, P., R. J. Keenan, J.-A. Paschen and H. Ojha(2016). ‘Social production of vulnerability to climate change in the rural middle hills of Nepal’, Journal of Rural Studies.
  • Khatri, D., Shrestha, K. K., Ojha, H, Paudel, N. & Paudel, G. (2016), ‘Reframing Nepalese community forestry food security, Environmental Conservation.
  • Adhikari, J., H.Ojhaand B. Bhattarai. 2016. Edible Forest? Rethinking Nepal’s Forest Governance in the Era of Food Insecurity International Forestry Review 18(3):265- 279.
  • OjhaH., J. Keenan, D. Race, D. C. Vega, R. Ford and H. Baral (2016). Delocalizing communities: Rethinking community participation in natural resource management, World Development.DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.06.017.
  • Nightingale, A. J., Bhattarai, A., OjhaH., Sigdel, T., Rankin, K. (2017) “Fragmented public authority and state un/making in the ‘new’ Republic of Nepal,” Modern Asian Studies, 52 (2), In Press
  • Bhatta, G. D., H. R. Ojha, P. K. Aggarwal, V. R. Sulaiman, P. Sultana, D. Thapa, N. Mittal, K. Dahal, P. Thomson and L. Ghimire (online 2015). Agricultural innovation and adaptation to climate change: empirical evidence from diverse agro-ecologies in South Asia, Environment, Development and Sustainability, print:  2017, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 497–525
  • Ojha, H., D.B. Khatri, K.K Shrestha, B. Bhattarai, J.C. Baral, K. Goutam, B. Basnet, M.R. Banjade, S. Jana, B. Bushley and S. Dhungana (2015). Can evidence and voice influence policy? A critical assessment of Nepal’s Forestry Sector Strategy 2014. Society and Natural Resources29(3): 357-373
  • Ojha, H., S. Ghimire, A. Pain, A. Nightingale, D. B. Khatri and H. Dhungana (2015). Policy without politics: technocratic control of climate change adaptation policy making in Nepal. Climate Policy, 16 (4): 415-433.
  • Ojha, H.,M. R. Banjade, R. Sunam, B. Bhattarai, S. Jana, K. R. Gautam and S. Dhungana (2014). Can authority change through deliberative politics? Lessons from the four decades of participatory forest policy reform in Nepal, Forest Policy and Economics 16:1-9.
  • Ojha, H.(2014). Beyond the local community: The evolution of multi-scale politics in Nepal’s community forestry regimes, International Forestry Review16 (3): 339-353.
  • Ojha, H. and R Sulaiman, P Sultana, D Thapa, K Dahal, N Mittal, Paul Thompson, G Bhatta and P Aggarwal (2014). ‘Is South Asian agriculture adapting to climate change? Evidence from Indo-Gangetic Plains’, Journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 38:505-531.
  • Ojha, H., D. Khatri, K. K. Shrestha, B. Bushley and N. Sharma (2013). ‘Carbon, community and governance: is Nepal getting ready for REDD+?’Forests, Trees and Livelihoods22(4): 216-229.
  • Ojha, H., 2013.Counteracting hegemonic powers in the policy process: critical action research on Nepal’s forest governance. Critical Policy Studies.
  • Paudel, N.S., Khatri, D.B., Ojha, H., Karki, R. and Gurung, N., 2013. Integrating Climate Change Adaptation with Local Development: Exploring Institutional OptionsJournal of Forest and Livelihood, 11(1):1-13
  • Ojha, H (2012). Civic Engagement through Critical Action Research: Reflections on Ten Years of ForestAction Nepal experience,New Angle: Nepal Journal of Social Science and Public Policy.
  • Nightingale, A and HOjha. Theory of Power and Authority: Symbolic Violence and Subjectivity in Nepal’s Terai Forests, Development and Change (Under Review)
  • Ojha, H.R., Paudel, N.S., Khatri, D.B. and B.K., D. 2012. Can Policy Learning be Catalyzed? Ban Chautari Experiment in Nepal’s Forestry Sector. Journal of Forest and Livelihood. 10(1)
  • Ojha, H (2009). Civic Engagement and Deliberative Forest Governance: The Case of Community Forestry Users’ Federation of Nepal,Studies in Nepalese History and Society (SINHAS), Issue: December
  • Sharma, N, H Ojha and S Ghimire (2007). Human rights: A guiding principle or a challenge for transforming conservation? Policy Matters, 2007, No 15.
  • Ojha, H, N Ttimsina and Dil R Khanal (2007). How are Forest Policy Decisions Made in Nepal? Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 6 (1), pp 1-16.
  • Ojha, H. Techno-bureaucratic Doxa and Challenges for Deliberative Governance – The Case of Community Forestry Policy and Practice in Nepal. Policy and Society, 25 (2): 131-175, 2006
  • Cameron, J and H Ojha (2006) A deliberative ethic for development: A Nepalese journey from Bourdieu through Kant to Dewey and HabermasInternational Journal of Social Economics2006: 34 (1)
  • N Sharma, M Banjade, H Ojha, C McDougall, R Prabhu (2006). Contextualizing Common Property Systems: Action Research Insights on Forging Effective Links between Forest Commons and ‘Meso’ Level Governance (2006) Journal of Forest and Livelihood
  • Ojha, H, B Bhattarai and J Cameron (2005). Understanding Development through the Language of Habermas and Bourdieu? Insights from Nepal’s Leasehold Forestry Programme. International Development Planning Review, 17 (4), 2005 (with J Cameron and B Bhattarai)
  • Facilitating Deliberative Governance: Innovations from Nepal’s Community Forestry Program Forestry Chronicle (with M Banjade). The Forestry Chronicle 81(3): 403-408, 2005
  • Ojha, H, Bhattarai, B., and Y. Humagain (2005).Is Leasehold Forestry Really a Pro-Poor Innovation in Nepal? Evidences from kavre District. Journal of Forest and Livelihood 4(2): 17-30.
  • Ojha, H and B Pokharel (2005). Democratic Innovations in Community Forestry – What Can Politicians LearnParticipation (A Journal of Nepal Participatory Action Network), Vol VII, December, 2005
  • Ojha, H and B Bhattarai (2003). Learning to Manage a Complex Resource – A Case of NTFP Assessment in Nepal. International Forestry Review Vol 2, 118-127, 2003 (with B Bhattarai)
  • Ojha, H, B Pokharel, K Paudel and C McDougall (2002). Learning to Govern: A Review of Community Forestry Monitoring System in Nepal. Journal of Forest and Livelihood (). Journal of Forest and Livelihood 2 (2), 2002
  • Ojha, H, B Subedi and S Dangal (2002). Management of Non-Timber Forest Products: Recent Innovations in Resource Assessment and Sustainable HarvestingNepal Journal of Forestry 2002
  • Ojha, H and B Bhattarai (2001). Understanding Community Perspectives of Silvicultural Practices in the Middle Hills of Nepal. FTPP Newsletter (No 44), FAO.

Books