The world tropics hold immense biodiversity assets, in which India, with the State of Kerala placed in the equatorial belt, holds a strategic position. There has been continued destruction of tropical biodiversity owing to various factors, particularly anthropogenic actions relating to ‘development’. With the Earth Summit held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and adoption of the biodiversity resolution, a certain degree of commitment from world governments for biodiversity conservation has emerged through the United Nations. Although various research and action groups have been established under the general directions of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) placed in Nairobi, Kenya, R&D institutions are few, of which the tropical centre of the Smithsonian Institution placed in Washington is significant. It is therefore imperative that India holding a strategic position in the tropics, with Kerala as the vital component, genuinely needs to have an R&D establishment for environmental resource research and management. This was the fundamental motivation in taking the initiative to establish the Environmental Resources Research Centre (ERRC) in Kerala, at the heart of tropical equatorial belt.
By virtue of the unique physiographic and natural assets including 44 rivers, three Ramsar sites, namely Vembanad, Ashtamudi and Sasthamkotta lakes, a coastal belt fringing the Arabian Sea in the west, and high ranges of the Western Ghats in the east, Kerala offers an opportunity for environmental research and sustainable development. The ERRC has been envisaged to integrate and interact with South East Asia, West Asia, Africa and other tropical systems apart from giving attention to the Indian Ocean islands in evolving a sustainable global approach to environmental action in the process of sustainable development.
The organization has already rendered national service and international collaborations as recognized by the accreditation to the GEF and a host of national organizations. It is envisaged that the institution will stimulate knowledge based environmentally compatible development approach not only in India but also elsewhere in the tropics. The website provides a glimpse into our activities and achievements giving new hope to address the enormous environmental problems and to find solutions.
Dr. P.K.K. Nair