Priya Shyamsundar, Lead Economist.
Priya Shyamsundar Priya Shyamsundar, Lead Economist. © Bill Marr / The Nature Conservancy

Our People

Priya Shyamsundar

Lead Economist

Arlington, VA


Priya Shyamsundar is an economist with extensive experience in the field of environment and development economics. She is Founder Director of SANDEE, a regional network with a mandate to identify solutions to South Asia’s shared environment-development challenges. SANDEE supports research and builds capacity on the economics of climate change, poverty and natural resources, and pollution management. SANDEE has been successful in creating a large network of environment and development professionals across countries with limited regional cooperation. Research results have led to a better understanding of the welfare implications of climate change, clarity over the role of institutions in resource use and opportunities for financing natural resource management. Deep capacity building has also contributed the growth of a professional group of local researchers and leaders.

Priya has consulted extensively for the World Bank. Most recently, she worked as a Sr. Technical Advisor to the Program on Forests to develop a framework on forests and poverty. There are few obvious solutions to the inter-linked problems of forests conservation and poverty reduction. However, a comprehensive approach that improves productivity, strengthens rights and increases access to markets and ecosystem services, along with supportive institutions and public services, may open some pathways out of poverty.

Priya’s work seeks to clarify the role of forests in poverty reduction to help with the Bank’s operations. Earlier in her career, Priya was Senior Program Officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Visiting Assistant Professor at Duke University and Research Associate at the Institute of Social Studies Trust.

Priya has served on multiple advisory committees to support the practice of environment and development. She was part of an Expert Group on Green National Accounts that advised the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, Government of India. The committee report, released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, mapped out options for making India’s National Accounts more environment friendly.

Priya has also served as a member of the World Bank’s Policy and Technical Experts Committee, advising the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystems Services program, and the Scientific Advisory Committee to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. She currently serves as International Vice Chair, Board, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Canada.

Priya Shyamsundar has a Ph.D. in Environmental Economics from Duke University. Priya’s research publications cover multiple environmental areas, including forests, climate change and watershed management.

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In Press

Rai, R. K., P. Shyamsundar L. D. Bhatta and M. Nepal. 2018. Market-based Strategies for Improving Municipal Water Supply in Mountainous Nepal (under review, Intl Journal of Water Resource Dev).


Cheng, S.H., Ahlroth, S., Onder, S., Shyamsundar, P., Garside, R., Kristjanson, P., McKinnon, M.C. & Miller, D.C. (2017). What is the evidence for the contribution of forests to poverty alleviation? A systematic map protocol. Environmental Evidence, 6, 10.

Sharma, B., Shyamsundar, P., Nepal, M., Pattanayak, S. & Karky, B. (2017). Costs, cobenefits, and community responses to REDD+: a case study from Nepal. Ecology and Society, 22.


Rai, R.K., Shyamsundar, P., Nepal, M. & Bhatta, L.D. (2015). Differences in demand for watershed services: Understanding preferences through a choice experiment in the Koshi Basin of Nepal. Ecological Economics, 119, 274–283.


Griggs, D., Stafford Smith, M., Rockström, J., Öhman, M., Gaffney, O., Glaser, G., Kanie, N., Noble, I., Steffen, W. & Shyamsundar, P. (2014). An integrated framework for sustainable development goals. Ecology and Society, 19.

Haque, A.K.E., Khan, Z.H., Nepal, M. & Shyamsundar, P. (2014). Red Wells or Green Wells and Does It Matter? Examining Household Use of Arsenic-contaminated Water in Bangladesh. In: Environment and Development Economics (eds. Barrett, S., Mäler, K.-G. & Maskin, E.S.). Oxford University Press, pp. 174–199.

Mukhopadhyay, P., Nepal, M. & Shyamsundar, P. (2014). Building skills for sustainability: a role for regional research networks. Ecology and Society, 19.

Shyamsundar, P. & Ghate, R. (2014). Rights, Rewards, and Resources: Lessons from Community Forestry in South Asia. Rev Environ Econ Policy, 8, 80–102.


Griggs, D., Stafford-Smith, M., Gaffney, O., Rockström, J., Öhman, M.C., Shyamsundar, P., Steffen, W., Glaser, G., Kanie, N. & Noble, I. (2013). Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet. Nature, 495, 305–307.

Shyamsundar, P. (2013). Accounting for natural wealth—Practical challenges ahead. Environmental Development, 7, 181–183.


Gundimeda, H. & Shyamsundar, P. (2012). Forests, sustainability and poverty in India. Environment and Development Economics, 17, 373–378.

Mukhopadhyay, P. & Shyamsundar, P. (2012). Economic Growth and Ecological Sustainability in India. In: The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Economy (ed. Ghate, Chetan). Oxford University Press.


Bandyopadhyay, S. & Shyamsundar, P. (2011). Examining the effectiveness of irrigation management reforms in the Philippines. In: Institutional Aspects of Water Management: Evaluating the Experience, Water Resource Planning, Development and Management (ed. Herath, G.). Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY.

Bandyopadhyay, S., Shyamsundar, P. & Baccini, A. (2011). Forests, biomass use and poverty in Malawi. Ecological Economics, 70, 2461–2471.

Haque, A.K.E., Murty, M.N. & Shyamsundar, P. (eds.). (2011). Environmental Valuation in South Asia. Cambridge University Press.


Bandyopadhyay, S., Shyamsundar, P. & Xie, M. (2010). Transferring Irrigation Management to Farmer’s Associations : Evidence from the Philippines. Water Policy, 12, 444–460.

Kumar, K.S.K., Shyamsundar, P. & Nambi, A.A. (2010). Economics of Climate Change Adaptation in India. Economic and Political Weekly, 45, 25–29.


Bandyopadhyay, S., Humavindu, M., Shyamsundar, P. & Wang, L. (2009). Benefits to local communities from community conservancies in Namibia: an assessment. Development Southern Africa, 26, 733–754.


Shyamsundar, P. (2008). Decentralization, Devolution, and Collective Action—A Review of International Experience. In: Promise, Trust and Evolution (eds. Ghate, R., Jodha, N. & Mukhopadhyay, P.). Oxford University Press.


Devarajan, S., Ferro, M.V., Shah, S. & Shyamsundar, P. (2007). Accelerating Poverty Reduction in South Asia by Scaling Economics Education and Policy Research. In: Capacity Building in Economics Education and Research (eds. Bourguignon, F., Elkana, Y. & Pleskovic, B.). The World Bank, Washington, D.C.


Dasgupta, P., Shyamsundar, P. & Mäler, K.-G. (2004). The economics of environmental change and pollution management – issues and approaches from South Asia. Environment and Development Economics, 9, 9–18.


Bernow, S., Costanza, R., Daly, H., DeGennaro, R., Erlandson, D., Ferris, D., Hawken, P., Hoerner, J.A., Lancelot, J., Marx, T., Norland, D., Peters, I., Roodman, D., Schneider, C., Shyamsundar, P. & Woodwell, J. (1998). Society News: Ecological tax reform. BioScience, 48, 193–196.


Shyamsundar, P. (1997). Benefit–cost analysis as a mechanism for evaluating conservation policies in developing countries. Environment and Development Economics, 2, 195–221.

Shyamsundar, P. & Kramer, R. (1997). Biodiversity Conservation: At What Cost? A Study of Households in the Vicinity of Madagascar’s Mantadia National Park. Ambio, 26, 180–184.


Shyamsundar, P. (1996). Constraints on socio-buffering around the Mantadia National Park in Madagascar. Environmental Conservation, 23, 67–73.

Shyamsundar, P. & Kramer, R.A. (1996). Tropical Forest Protection: An Empirical Analysis of the Costs Borne by Local People. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 31, 129–144.


Shyamsundar, P. & Lanier, G.K. (1994). Biodiversity prospecting: an effective conservation tool? Tropical Biodiversity, 2, 441–446.