Working for people and wildlife: Interview with Sudeep Jana - leader of IUCN World Parks Congress stream ‘Inspiring a new generation'

23 August 2014 | Article

Sudeep is a co-leader of the Young Professionals Group of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas.

How did you come to be involved with protected areas?

With a background in social sciences, I have been involved in policy research and action in the areas of local people and protected areas in Nepal since 2006, particularly around issues of conflict, local livelihoods, human rights, equity and social justice.

My engagement with indigenous fishing minorities in the buffer zone of the first national park in Nepal was inspirational. Since then I have been involved in advocating a rights-based approach to nature conservation and democratic governance of protected areas.

Why are you passionate about protected areas?

Besides being a modern way of conserving biological diversity, the environment and natural solutions to climate change, protected areas have multiple values. Everyday lives and livelihoods, and the social and cultural practices of indigenous peoples and local communities in different parts of the world are intricately linked to protected areas.

Why is your stream important?

For me, the ‘inspiring a new generation’ stream is critical to articulate the concerns, visions, knowledge, practices, leadership and power of young people representing diverse cultures, regions and life experiences. It will be critical to create a Congress legacy on engaging, inspiring and being inspired by young people and a new generation of conservationists.

Why did you want to be a stream leader for the Congress?

As a co-leader of the Young Professionals Specialist Group of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, I hope to help develop opportunities for young people to engage in the Congress.

What do you hope the Congress achieves?

The Congress influences national and international conservation policies and programmes and provides impetus to paradigm shifts in protected areas and a new generation of conservationists. It also empowers a significant number of young people to take action and bring about positive change.

What’s been your most memorable experience within a protected area?

While spending a night at a temporary camp with indigenous fishers on the riverbank in the Chitwan National Park boundary in 2005, I witnessed an Asian One-horned Rhinoceros crossing River Narayani under moonlight and returning to the park after raiding crops in the adjacent villages. This area was shared by fishing communities, aquatic species and wildlife inhabiting the park.