Building sustainability in the Eastern Himalaya: linking evidence to action

  • Sandeep TambeEmail author
  • Gopal S. Rawat
  • Nima Tashi Bhutia
  • Pem Norbu Sherpa
  • Subash Dhakal
  • Sarika Pradhan
  • Himanshu Kulkarni
  • M. L. Arrawatia


Operating at the science, policy, practice interface (SPPI) is often contentious, as knowledge creators and end-users seldom engage, preferring to operate in their own worlds. The application of science to solve sustainability challenges has not received the desired attention, especially in developing countries. How to strengthen the credibility, relevance and legitimacy of research so as to enhance the chances of uptake in decision making? How to generate knowledge differently, so that it is more likely to bring about change and benefit society? The purpose of this research is to examine these questions in the context of three sustainability case studies that were able to transcend the knowledge action barrier. These case studies are from the global biodiversity hot spot of Eastern Himalaya, India, and cover the themes of sustainability of pastoral systems, promoting sustainable livelihoods for the poor and co-designing a Himalayan spring revival initiative. The findings are structured to highlight how the demand for science arose, findings of the research and how the knowledge generated was translated into action. The results show that firstly relevance of science increases manifold when aligned to prominent policy decisions and real-world problems. Secondly, trans-disciplinary studies that synthesize social, economic and ecological aspects have a greater chance of influencing policy makers. Thirdly, mediation by science stewards holds lot of promise in connecting the worlds of academicians and policy makers. The study provides practical guidance on bridging the SPPI and contributes to the growing body of the literature on sustainability science.


Sustainability science Science stewards Co-production Synthesis Boundary work 



We gratefully acknowledge the support received from Indian Institute of Forest Management, Wildlife Institute of India, Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim (RMDD), German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) and MGNREGA–National flagship programme of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. We gratefully acknowledge the role of RMDD support staff as well. The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments, which helped to strengthen the paper significantly.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Institute of IndiaDehradunIndia
  2. 2.Rural Management and Development DepartmentGovernment of SikkimGangtokIndia
  3. 3.Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and ManagementPuneIndia
  4. 4.JaipurIndia
  5. 5.Indian Institute of Forest ManagementBhopalIndia

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