Career Profile

Ashok Khosla is Chairman of the Development Alternatives Group, a consortium of social enterprises based in India whose mission is to create technologies, businesses and markets for large scale generation of sustainable livelihoods.

Earlier, he was Director of the Office of Environment, Government of India, and Director, Infoterra in the United Nations Environment Programme.

He is President of the Club of Rome and has been a Member of the Governing Bodies of the World Economic Forum in Davos, IUCN, WWF, IISD, the Stockholm Environment Institute, WETV and several other Indian and international organizations. He was Special Advisor to the Brundtland Commission and Chairman of the NGO Forum at the ‘92 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

He has been board member of many government, industry and NGO bodies in India, including the National Security Advisory Board, the Science Advisory Committee to the Cabinet and the National Environment Council.

Ashok Khosla studied at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He was awarded the Stockholm Challenge Award in 2002, the UN Sasakawa Environment Prize in 2002 and the Schwab Foundation’s Award for Outstanding Social Entrepreneur in 2004.



1983 - Present
Development Alternatives

Responsible for policies, strategic planning and overall supervision of the organisation’s operations which include: analysis of sustainable development options, innovation, manufacturing and marketing of technologies and products aimed at achieving sustainable livelihoods on a mass scale, development and dissemination of effective environmental management systems, design and advocacy of appropriate policies and institutions.


1976 - 1982
INFOTERRA, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi

Designed and established INFOTERRA, the International Referral System for Sources of Environmental Information of the United Nations. Created a global network in over 110 countries to improve environmental information exchange. As Chairman, MIS, established organisation-wide procedures for efficient flow of information. Undertook many other assignments relating to environmental management techniques.


2012 - 2014
Office of Environmental Planning & Coordination,DST,New Delhi

As head of the first office of environment in the Government of India (and in the Third World) established the organisational and functional basis for environmental policy-making in the country. Was responsible for all activities of the Department relating to Environmental Policy, Environmental legislation, planning and management, Project appraisal, Pollution control, Human settlements, Transportation systems, Nature conservation, Energy, Appropriate technology, S&T Policy, Futurology, Forecasting, Information Systems, and Education.

Also As Chief Consultant, and Member of Board of Directors, Delhi Transport Corp, designed new routing network, and scheduling, management and information systems for mass transport system. Managed implementation.

Government Appointments


  • National Security Advisory Board
  • Science Advisory Council to the Cabinet
  • National Environment Council
  • Delhi Urban Art Commission
  • Indo-UK Roundtable for Strategic Advice to Prime Ministers

Government Bodies


  • The Club of Rome Centre for Environment Education (CEE)
  • World Resources Institute (WRI – India)
  • Center for Our Common Future, Geneva
  • WETV, the Global Access TV Channel, Ottawa
  • International Facilitating Committee, Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro
  • IUCN Commission on Environmental Planning
  • ICSU/SCOPE Project on Environmental Information, Paris SATIS, Utrecht
  • National Advisory Committee on Environmental Education, G.O.I.
  • Indian Environment Congress, New Delhi

Special Advisor

World Commission on Environment & Development, Geneva


  • World Conservation Union (IUCN), Morges & Gland
  • World Wide Fund for Nature, Gland
  • International Advisory Board, Criteria CaixaCorp, Barcelona
  • EXPO 2000, Hannover
  • Earth Council, San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Television Trust for the Environment, London
  • Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm
  • International Institute for Environment & Development, Winnipeg
  • UNEP International Environment Technology Centre, Osaka
  • World Economic Forum NGO Council, Davos/Geneva
  • Factor 10 Club
  • World Future Council
  • Alliance for a New Humanity
  • Chair, Jury of EnergyGlobe Award
  • Jury, World Clean Energy Award
  • Jury, Toyota Environmental Award
  • National Environmental Council, New Delhi
  • Science Advisory Council to the Cabinet, New Delhi
  • Poverty Eradication Mission, Govt of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad
  • Delhi Urban Arts Commission, New Delhi
  • National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
  • World Wide Fund for Nature – India, New Delhi
  • Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation, Bhopal


  • United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi
  • United Nations Development Programme, New York
  • World Bank, Washington D.C.
  • Global Environment Facility, Washington, D.C.
  • United Nations University, Tokyo
  • International Development Research Center, Ottawa
  • World Conservation Union (IUCN), Gland
  • International Council of Scientific Unions, Paris
  • World Resources Institute, Washington D.C.
  • East-West Center, Hawaii
  • Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm
  • MacArthur Foundation, Chicago
  • Ministry of Environment, Government of India, New Delhi
  • Ministry of Science & Technology, G.O.I., New Delhi
  • Ministry of Rural Development, G.O.I., New Delhi
  • Planning Commission, G.O.I., New Delhi

Task Forces


  • Secretary General’s Task Force to Restructure the Environmental Programmes of the United Nations
  • Evaluation of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Pilot
  • Evaluation of the World Bank’s Environmental Performance
  • Evaluation of the Capacity 21 Programme of UNDP
  • Evaluation of the Environment Progs of the E-W Center, Hawaii
  • The Memo Group of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Berlin
  • Science Advisory Committee of the United Nations University


30th Anniversary of IIED, London


  • More than 300 professional papers, articles and reports
  • The Development Alternatives monthly journal


“The Survival Equation”, ed with Roger Revelle, Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1970)

  • National Security Advisory Board
  • Science Advisory Council to the Cabinet
  • National Environment Council
  • Delhi Urban Art Commission
  • Indo-UK Roundtable for Strategic Advice to Prime Ministers


“The Survival Equation”, ed with Roger Revelle, Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1970)

  • UNEP Science-Policy Lifetime Award
  • UN Sawakawa Environment Prize
  • Schwab Foundation Outstanding Social Entrepreneur
  • Stockholm Challenge Award
  • Global 500 Roll of Honour of the United Nations Environment Prog.
  • The Golden Ark of the Netherlands


Harvard University

  • Undergraduate courses on Physics, Astronomy (1963-69)
  • Course on “Population, Resources and the Environment” (1964-70)


  • Sales Manager, Grolier Inc., Boston, Mass (1964-67)
  • Several awards for Top Salesman and Top Sales Manager in US
  • Manager, D.P. Data Inc., Marlboro, Mass (1967-70)
  • Consultant, Industrial Development Services, New Delhi (1971)


Father was university professor and diplomat. Mother was college lecturer. Brother is a venture capitalist, now working as CFO of TARAhaat. Wife is Deputy Director General (Retd) in the Ministry of Tourism, GOI. Refugee from Pakistan, August 1947. Studied at 16 schools in 10 countries.

  • Tell us something about your childhood days, the pre and post-independence period and how has your upbringing contributed in becoming an environmentalist/social entrepreneur?
  • Please tell us something about yourself and your family?
  • Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
  • What book that you have read has most influenced your life?
  • What are the most important big priorities you care about regarding your family, your organization and your community?
  • What are you doing about each priority?
  • What would you like to do that you can’t do now?
  • What triggered the idea of establishing DA?
  • What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
  • What incident has shocked you and moved you as an environmentalist in these past years of campaigning?
  • How do you think people are poisoning/harming themselves and the environment that immediately surrounds them?
  • According to you how can we make people aware or step that can be helpful in environment conservation?
  • Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
  • Maybe some one who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
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  • Your organization started the trialogue 2047 series. What is the India of your dreams?
  • What do you see DA to be like on its golden jubilee?
  • What is your mantra of life?
  • Who are your role models? Who have inspired you through your life?
  • How were you inspired to be an Environmentalist?
  • What message would you like to give to the youth of today?