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Urbanization & Sustainable Development Expert Madhav Pai is CEO, WRI India


Sustainable development expert, Mr Madhav Pai has been announced as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), WRI India. In his new role, Pai will lead and oversee the organization’s strategy, operations, and activities. Pai, who had also been serving as the interim CEO for the last few months, has spent 15 years with the institute and has played an important role in developing its strategy, structure, and growth. He succeeds Dr. OP Agarwal, former CEO and currently a senior advisor with the organization. This announcement comes in the run-up to World Earth Day which is celebrated on April 22. WRI India works on projects to transform Indian cities, food, land, water, and energy systems to spur India on in its transition to a low-carbon economy.

Under Pai’s leadership as the Executive Director of the Sustainable Cities Program, WRI India helped inform national and sub-national policies on urban transport, urban development, and electric mobility. These include the motor vehicle amendment act, the national electric bus program, and the green hydrogen mission. During this time, Pai also helped expand the portfolio of the program to support partnerships with government bodies in the form of Bengaluru Municipality restructuring, Mumbai Street Lab, Mumbai Climate Action Plan, Surat Clean Air Plan, and technology roll-out for city bus systems.

Welcoming Pai as the CEO of the organization, Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman of the Board, of India Resources Trust, said “I feel confident that Madhav will continue to do for the institution what he has done for the Sustainable Cities Program and that his leadership will enable a strong, collaborative, and dedicated effort to turn ideas into action and build transformative solutions for the planet and its people. I look forward as he brings his knowledge of system design, years of experience in positions of leadership as well as his long-standing association with the institution to ensure that we continue to improve on our path to help foster environmentally sound and socially equitable development.”

Earlier as Director of the EMBARQ program at the World Resources Institute, he was responsible for lending support to landmark initiatives like Indore Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Raahgiri and BusKaro. He is a published author and has written several research papers for renowned journals and articles and books on urban transport, urban planning, resilience and clean air. A wildlife enthusiast and a believer in the public transport system, he credits his interest in the environment and the development sector to the constant loss of playgrounds that he witnessed growing up.

Taking up the reins of the organization, Pai said, “The recent IPCC report urges us to take urgent action to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. This makes it extremely important to support India’s commitments to achieve net zero by 2070 which will require us to transform energy systems, food system and our current approach to urbanization. At WRI India we are committed to support national and state governments to drive these system transitions by bringing high-quality evidence and research, and working in partnerships with the private sector, peers and community organizations.”

Pai earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Mumbai and holds a master’s degree in Transport Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the institute as CEO on 19 April 2023, and is based in Mumbai.

About WRI India

WRI India, an independent charity legally registered as the India Resources Trust, provides objective information and practical proposals to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable development. Our work focuses on building sustainable, liveable cities and working towards a low-carbon economy. Through research, analysis, and recommendations, WRI India puts ideas into action to build transformative solutions to protect the earth, promote livelihoods, and enhance human well-being. We are inspired by and associated with World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization with more than 400 experts and other staff around the world.

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