IIFM-IP Paul Brown Centre of Excellence – Fostering Research & Innovations (IIFM-IP)
International Paper, India, and the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), Bhopal, signed a memorandum of understanding to engage in research and work on mutual interests in the field of forest sustainability by setting up a Centre of Excellence. This wide-ranging partnership entails action research, capacity building and academic exchange involving experts and researchers from both the US-based $24-billion International Paper and IIFM. The MoU was signed by Dr.Giridhar Kinhal (IFS), Director, IIFM, and Shri Rampraveen Swaminathan, President, International Paper, India, and Chairman & Managing Director – IP-APPM. The collaboration between the organisations also covers training and capacity-building for the students, researchers, and professionals of IIFM. It provides a common platform to develop training modules and knowledge for the future sectoral workforce. Under the agreement, the IIFM–IP Centre of Excellence (CoE) has been set up at IIFM to facilitate and anchor activities in the areas of applied forestry research, forestry, fiber sustainability, supply chain management, safety in the forestry and paper industry, dependence of vulnerable communities on natural ecosystems for livelihood and subsistence, and economic valuation of services provided by natural ecosystems, among other issues.
- Para 1(a) of this MOU specifies that IIFM and IPI will work on various common areas including forestry and sustainability, conservation, supply chain management, safety in forestry & paper industry, dependence of vulnerable communities on natural ecosystems for livelihood and subsistence, economic valuation of services provide by natural ecosystems, gender issues, among others. Further, Para 2 of the said MOU specifies that terms and conditions (or terms of reference), under which a specific programme or activity shall be undertaken under the terms of the Memorandum, and any necessary financial arrangements to facilitate these will be mutually discussed and agreed upon in writing by both the parties prior to the initiation of the particular programme or activity. In order to institutionalize this collaboration the Operational Framework was finalized in October 2015 in which the coordinators of both the institutions were specified and the composition and functions of the steering committee and the core committee was elaborated in detail. Amongst the various activities that this CoE is mandated to take up, the Terms of Reference (ToR) to Promote Excellence in Applied Research in Sustainable Development were framed in October 2015 as the first step in this direction. The Call for Proposals was floated in November 2015 amongst the IIFM faculty and 6 proposals were received and scrutinized by the Centre. Of these 6 proposals, the proposal titled, ” Community Livelihood promotion through assessment of Biodiversity and Carbon Sequestration potential in Agro-forestry systems along altitude and aspects of Western Himalaya, India with special reference to Combating Climate Change: An action research.” has been sanctioned. The study aims to bring about a better understanding of the indigenous agro-forestry systems existing in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and their variation along the gradients of elevation and aspect. This three year study will also cover the livelihood and climate change aspects as well.
- The second round of call for research proposals was floated in March 2016 amongst the IIFM faculty and 4 proposals were received and are presently being scrutinized by the Centre.
This novel collaboration between an industry player and an academic institute augurs well for the future of the country as it will create an ecosystem for innovation and spur similar partnerships to be forged between the industry and the academia in the days to come.