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Mukul Sanwal was the first head of the Division of Pollution Control and International Cooperation in the Government of India, and developed the Policy Statement on Abatement of Pollution. Represented India at the Rio Conference in 1992 and was the lead negotiator for the Climate Change treaty, Agenda 21, Forest Principles and co-chaired the negotiations leading to the Rio Declaration.

He joined the United Nations in 1993 as policy adviser to the Executive Director of UNEP and later to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, and was closely associated with the establishment of the Global Environment Facility and its Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel and Inter-Agency Relations of the UN. He was among the group of scientists that contributed to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from its establishment leading to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC.

He played a lead role in the drafting of the National Action Plan on Climate Change of India and is a member of the Expert Committee on Strategic Knowledge related to Climate Change established by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India.

He has a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, USA. He is a Visiting Professor invited to teach a course on International Relations at the University of Business and the Economy, Beijing, China (2011), on the Politics of Climate Change at the University of Massachusetts, USA (2013) and modules on climate change at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He has contributed widely to international journals on global environmental change, climate change, sustainable development and strategic affairs and has a blog on the India Environment Portal.

His most recent publication is the ‘World’s Search for Sustainable Development: a perspective from the global south’ published by Cambridge University Press in August 2015.


  • A New Role for IPCC: Balancing Science and Society, Global Policy, Vol 8, Issue 4, Nov 2017.  The Asian-African Century with two centres of gravity, Strategic Analysis (Vol 40 Issue 2, 2016)
  • China’s changing economy and emissions trajectory: following global trends, Climate Policy, Vol 18 Issue 1, 2016.
  • The Paris Agreement on Climate Change: A new global vision; challenges of the urban transition remain, Economic and Political Weekly (Vol 51 Issue 13, 26 March 2016).
  • The Lima call for Climate Action: Differentiation ends, climate change is now part of the urban transformation and negotiations begin for sharing prosperity, Climate and Development (published online 12 April 2016)
  • Paris, India and China: Shaping the Global Agenda, Chinese Journal of Urban and Environmental Studies, Vol 3 No. 4, 2015.
  • China and India and the new climate regime: the emergence of a new paradigm, Global Policy, Vol 6 issue 5, Nov 2015.
  • Global Sustainable Development Goals are about use and distribution, not scarcity of natural resources – The middle class in the USA, China and India can save the climate despite rising incomes. Climate and Development, Volume 7 Issue 2 March 2015.
  • The post-2015 global agenda: are the political decisions on climate change shifting to a new forum in the United Nations as it comes together with sustainable development and security? Climate and Development, Volume 6 Issue 2 April 2014.
  • Fresh thinking needed on sustainable development, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XLIX No. 31, August 02 2014
  • The Rise and Fall of Global Climate Policy: Stockholm to Rio 1992, to Rio + 20 and beyond, Chinese Journal of Environmental and Urban Studies, Vol 1 No. 1 2013.
  • Why is the United Nations Security Council discussing Climate Change? Strategic Analysis, Volume 36 Issue 6 November 2013.
  • Rio +20, climate change and development: the evolution of sustainable development (1972–2012), Climate and Development, 4:2, 2012, 157-166.
  • Climate Change and the Rio + 20 Summit – A developing Country Perspective, Climate and Development, 3(2011) 1-5.
  • Reflections on the Climate Negotiations: a southern perspective, Climate Policy, published online 15 June 2011.

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