Inspiring Speakers from Around the World

The conference offered plenary talks, workshops, participatory conversations and more, these inspiring visionaries and change-makers from Ladakh and abroad came together to critically examine the global economy and explore systemic strategies for change that work for people and planet.

Chief Guest

Gyal Wangyal CEC EOH 2019

Shri Gyal P. Wangyal

Chief Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh

Guest of Honour

Phutsog Stanzin EC Agriculture EOH 2019

Shri Phutsog Stanzin

Executive Councillor of Agriculture, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh

Plenary Speakers

Geshe Dakpa Kalsang, Ladakh

Geshe Dakpa Kalsang is an associate professor of Buddhist Philosophy and the Dean of the Student Welfare Committee in CIBS (Deemed to be University).

Satish Kumar, UK

A former monk and long-term peace and environment activist, Satish Kumar has quietly been setting the Global Agenda for change for over 50 years. He is the editor of Resurgence Magazine and the author of several books. Satish has been the guiding spirit behind a number of internationally-respected ecological and educational ventures, including Schumacher College in South Devon, UK, where he is still a Visiting Fellow. He continues to teach and run workshops on reverential ecology, holistic education and voluntary simplicity and is a much sought-after speaker both in the UK and abroad. Read more about Satish here

Stanzin Dorjai Gya, Ladakh

Stanzin is a filmmaker and the founder of the Himalayan Film House in Leh. He has directed and produced notable feature films and documentaries, including the internationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning documentaries, The Shepherdess of the Glaciers and Jungwa: The Broken Balance. Stanzin comes from the village of Gya, and like other children of this village, Stanzin had a semi-nomadic childhood. In 1995, unable to pass the necessary standardised tests to complete high school, Stanzin began attending an alternative school, SECMOL (Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh), where the non-traditional setting and creative teaching ignited his passion for film. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Jammu University in 2005. Read more about Stanzin here.

Skarma Gurmet, Ladakh

Skarma Gurmet is the founder/director of Julay Ladakh, a Japanese/Ladakhi NGO actively engaged in sustainable development in Ladakh through international exchange and cooperation between Ladakh and Japan. In Japan, Julay Ladakh works to promote Ladakh, Ladakhi culture and sustainable development with various universities, NGOs and community groups. In Ladakh, the organisation promotes renewable energy, socio-environmental education, sustainable agriculture and economy in both rural villages and the urban center of Leh. Julay Ladakh has conducted more than 50 study programmes between Japan and Ladakh in the past 10 years focusing on various issues like local food, local economy, happiness, and balanced and sustainable development. These cross-cultural exchanges have provided both Ladakhis and foreigners (mostly Japanese) with valuable opportunities for mutual learning and deeper understanding of these issues.


Tsering Stobdan, Ladakh

Tsering holds a PhD in Molecular Biology & Biotechnology from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. He is a leading Senior Scientist at DIHAR - Defence Institute of High Altitude Research, Leh. He has carried out extensive research on native food and medicinal plants in the Himalayas and is involved in the development of appropriate agro-technologies, such as passive solar heating for year-round vegetable production. His research has appeared in over 50 national and international journals, two monogram and 20 book chapters. He has played a central part in the elaboration of The Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council's Organic Mission Document for Ladakh. 

Tsewang Dolma, Ladakh

Tsewang Dolma is a native of Ladakh and has studied in India and the USA, earning a master in Agricultural Science and a second master in Environmental Science and Policy. Dolma is an International Ford Foundation Fellow 2010-12 and was awarded the Excellence in Research Award by the Environmental Science and Policy Program by Clark University in 2012.

Dolma has worked on various conservation and environmental issues concerning Ladakh with numerous local NGOs such as Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust, Ladakh Environment and Health Organization. Presently, she is working with Ladakh Ecological and Development Group (LEDeG) as the Chief Program Coordinator.

Manish Jain, India

Manish is a leading voice for the regeneration of diverse local knowledge systems, cultural imaginations, and the deschooling of our lives. He is the Co-Founder and coordinator of the Udaipur-based Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, and the co-founder of some of the most innovative educational experiments in the world: Swaraj University, the Jail University, the Creativity Adda, the Learning Societies Unconference, the Walkouts-Walkon network, Udaipur as a Learning City, and the Families Learning Together network. He recently helped to launch the global Ecoversities Network. Manish is the editor of several books on learning societies, unlearning, gift culture, community media, and tools for deep dialogue. Read more about Manish here.

Sonam Wangchuk, Ladakh

Sonam is a mechanical engineer by training and an innovator who has spent the past 25 years reforming the educational system in Ladakh. He is the founding-director of the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), initiated in 1988 by a group of students who, in his own words, were ‘victims’ of an alien education system foisted on Ladakh. He designed the SECMOL campus to be built with local traditional materials and the use of eco-technologies, including solar energy. Sonam was instrumental in the launch of Operation New Hope in 1994, a collaboration of government and civil society to bring reforms in the government school system. In 2016, he won the Rolex Award for Enterprise for his Ice Stupa Artificial Glacier invention. He is putting the award-money towards the establishment of an alternative university in Ladakh - The Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL)

Ashish Kothari, India

Founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh, Ashish taught at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, coordinated India’s National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan process, served on Greenpeace International and India Boards, helped initiate the global ICCA Consortium, and chaired an IUCN network dealing with protected areas and communities. Ashish helps coordinate the Vikalp Sangam and Global Tapestry of Alternatives processes, in search of alternative well-being pathways to globalized development. He has (co)authored or (co)edited over 35 books, including Churning the Earth: Making of Global India (with Aseem Shrivastava), Alternative Futures: India Unshackled (ed., with KJ Joy), and Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary (ed., with Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria, and Alberto Acosta).

Tsewang Namgail, Ladakh

Tsewang Namgail joined Snow Leopard Conservancy-India Trust as a Director in 2013. He has an M.Sc. (zoology honours) from the Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, an M.Phil. in wildlife biology from the University of Tromso, Norway, and a PhD in community ecology from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He has done pioneering ecological work on several taxa in the Himalayan region, focusing largely on birds and mammals in Ladakh.

He has published over 20 scientific articles in international peer-reviewed journals. He also has written extensively on nature conservation issues in magazines and newspapers. Apart from scientific research, he has a keen interest in conserving the natural resources of the Himalayas, and has implemented numerous community-based conservation programs in Ladakh. He has lectured widely in colleges and universities in India, Europe and the United States.

Keibo Oiwa, Japan

Keibo is a cultural anthropologist and leading environmental activist in Japan. He is also a filmmaker, public speaker and author/co-author of over 50 books. He teaches at Meiji Gakuin University and is the founder of The Sloth Club – an NGO that promotes slow and sustainable living. The Sloth Club, coupled with Keibo's book Slow is Beautiful: Culture as Slowness, have encouraged a new appreciation of rural life and a simpler way of living, with community and nature the focus. Keibo has organised several successful Economics of Happiness conferences in Japan in collaboration with Local Futures. Read more about Keibo here.

Afsar Jafri, India

Afsar Jafri has been working on agricultural issues for decades and has written extensively on the ill effects of the “green revolution”, international trade, GMOs, IPRs and patents, and about agroecology and food sovereignty as the alternative to the agrarian crisis in Asia. Afsar has long been associated with farmers´ groups in South Asia. He advises La Via Campesina member-groups and other farmer-unions in India on these issues. He was involved for a decade with the grassroots organisation Navdanya, founded by Dr. Vandana and has worked with Focus on the Global South - an Asian activist think tank - for 13 years. Afsar presently works with GRAIN, an international NGO that supports small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiverse food systems. 


Khenpo Lobsang Tsultrim, Ladakh

Khenpo Lobsang Tsultrim is an Assistant Professor at the Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), teaching Kargyud Tradition of Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy and Psychology. He has a B.A and M.A. in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy from Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi. Khenpo is currently working on a book named "Intermediate State", a book of living and dying consciously, in both English and Tibetan language, near to its completion.


Tashi Morup, Ladakh

Tashi Morup is the Projects Director of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation. He holds a post-graduate diploma in Mass Communication from Punjab University, Chandigarh and another post-graduate diploma in Journalism from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). For the last 12 years he has worked as a journalist, running his own weekly newspaper, Magpie, and also a video magazine that looks at developmental issues, contemporary art and music of both Leh and Kargil.

Padma Rigzin, Ladakh

Padma Rigzin is from Hemis-shukpa-chan village in the Sham region of Ladakh. He has recently submitted his MPhil dissertation at Ambedkar University, Delhi; as part of his research, he lived for a year in a Kondh Adivasi village in Rayagada, Odisha. He has also studied journalism and worked at a newspaper in Delhi.

Ananthalakshmi Sitaraman (also known as Durga), India

Ananthalakshmi Sitaraman is the Director of Prakriya Green Wisdom School, Bangalore. She has also been a faculty member of Bhoomi College, a pioneer in education for sustainable living in India. After obtaining an MS degree in Economics from the University of North Texas, USA and an MPhil in India, Durga worked in the field of statistical research. Disillusioned with mainstream economics she moved into working with education that fosters deep ecological consciousness. During the last 13 years she has been a facilitator, who has also been involved with teacher education and culture building within institutions that can support sustainable living and alternative, holistic learning.

Anja Lyngbaek, Denmark/Mexico

Anja is an Associate Programmes Director of Local Futures and coordinator of the International Economics of Happiness Conferences Series. Anja holds degrees in Rural Resource Management and Agroforestry and has worked extensively to further sustainable local food systems. In Costa Rica, she researched small-scale organic coffee production, in the UK she helped start the first local food advocacy programme, and in Mexico, she co-founded Microcuenca del Rio Citlalapa AC – a local NGO focused on agroecology and eco-design, as well as several learning initiatives for sustainable living. For the past decade, Anja has been advocating for a systemic shift towards healthy place-based economies. She gives talks and run workshops on these issues.

Vidhi Jain, India

Vidhi is co-founder of Shikshantar, a resource center for homeschooling, unschooling and self-designed learning. She is involved with various alternatives to factory schooling, including the Families Learning Together and Unschooling initiatives in Udaipur, where she is also active with community media and other expressions in Udaipur as a Learning City. Vidhi has a special interest in traditional knowledge, which has led to be involved in the Grandmother’s University. She is passionate about slow food and is engaged in the Hulchal Saturday Café and many local food festivals. Before co-founding Shikshantar 19 years ago, Vidhi worked on programmes for children with special needs in Northern India and in Rajasthan with Lok Jumbish, a grassroots project, where she designed and ran a programme in rural villages focused on inclusive schooling services for children with special needs.

Deskit Angmo, Ladakh

Deskit Angmo graduated in law in 2015 and earned a Post-Graduate Diploma in Tourism and Environmental law. She has since been working as a lawyer for the environment with a focus on environmental conservation, climate change adaptation measures, land conflict and aspires towards policy-making in these areas.

Deskit initially started working as an environmental lawyer in Delhi under lawyer and activist Mr. Ritwick Dutta on matters including coal mines, forest fires, air pollution, waste management, and wildlife. She soon returned to work at the grassroots level on similar environmental issues in her own homeland.

She is currently working on environmental issues focusing on both conservation and adaptation under the guidance of Mr. Sonam Wangchuk.

Gloria Germani, Italy

Gloria Germani graduated in Western and Eastern philosophy from the University of Florence, the University of Pisa, and New York University, and has devoted her writings and activism to the subject of the colonization of the imagination. She's the author of Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Ethics in Action which has been published in India, Italy and Brasil. She is an expert on Tiziano Terzani (the Italian journalist who settled in India) and coordinates the Alice Project Universal Education School (India) in Italy. She is involved in both the localisation and degrowth movements and has organized two Economics of Happiness Conferences in Italy (Florence 2016 and Prato 2018).

Rebecca Martusewicz, USA

Rebecca is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University.  For over 20 years, her focus has been on EcoJustice Education and activism, providing educators with the information and classroom practices they need to help develop citizens who are prepared to support and achieve diverse, democratic, and sustainable societies. She is the author/co-author of several books on ecojustice, including Art, EcoJustice, and Education, (2019) and EcoJustice Education: Toward Diverse, Democratic and Sustainable Communities (2011, 2015). Rebecca has worked with others in the United States, Canada, Europe and beyond to address these issues and has recently been awarded the position of Docent in the School of Education at the University of Tampere in Finland. Read more about Rebecca here.

Tsering Angchuk, Ladakh

Tsering Angchuk is a farmer from Takmachik village in Sham.

Alex Jensen

Alex is a project coordinator and researcher at Local Futures. He works in the USA and India, where he coordinates Local Futures’ Ladakh Project. Alex has worked with cultural affirmation, agro-biodiversity and environmental health projects in a number of countries, and is active in the environmental health/anti-waste and degrowth movements. He is part of on the core group of the Vikalp Sangam/Alternatives India initiative and the emerging Global Tapestry of Alternatives – an initiative aimed at facilitating collaboration amongst alternative and social/ecological justice movements around the world. He holds an MA in Globalisation and International Development from the University of East Anglia.


Other Workshop Presenters and Facilitators

Thinles Dawa, Ladakh

Thinles Dawa is an official with the Agriculture Department of Leh.

Konchok Stobgais, Ladakh

Konchok Stobgais grew up in a nomadic family in Phobrang Pangong. While attending the University of Jammu, he worked as tour guide all over Ladakh, Spiti and Kashmir. He later started his own travel company, "Ladakh Frontier Travels". He also collaborated with Wild Fiber Magazine in the USA to start a nonprofit, the Pangong Craft Center, a handicrafts center for 125 women in his village. He is presently the head of the village, which has 120 families.

Nawang Phuntsog, Ladakh

Inspired by his upbringing in a semi-nomadic family of farmers/herders in Teri village 100km east of Leh, his love for animals, and love for the land - Nawang Phuntsog founded Nomadic Woolen Mills (NWM) in 2008. NWA is a small manufacturer of fine pashmina products based in Ladakh, dedicated to promoting, preserving and developing the traditional craft in its natural environment. NWM is committed to giving a percentage of their income from the business to sustaining and enhancing the lives of nomads living in the Changthang area. Under this initiative, they have donated 1.7lakh rupees to the NGO PAGIR. In 2018, they distributed portable solar lantern to 70 families in Samad Rockchan in Changthang.

Tsewang Ringin, Ladakh

Tsewang Rigzin earned a Bachelor of Arts from Punjab University in Chandigarh while working for Students' Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), and graduated in 2003. Soon after, he completed a post-graduate diploma with honours from the Indian Institute of Journalism & News Media in Bangalore. He then worked as an editor for the magazine Ladags Melong (Mirror of Ladakh). In 2005, at the age of 27, Rigzin became the youngest Executive Councilor of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC). He continued as a LAHDC Councilor up through 2015.

Over the past decade, Rigzin has contributed hundreds of articles to numerous publications including the Kashmir Times, Tribune, State Times, and Epilogue Magazine, highlighting numerous issues facing Ladakh. He received the ‘Charkha Fellowship for Peace and Development’ and has also twice been a National Media Fellow of the National Foundation for India (NFI). Currently, he is the Bureau Chief of Leh for the State Times, a daily newspaper published from Jammu, and also the General Secretary of Press Club Leh. He is also an advisory member of the International Association for Ladakh Studies (IALS).

Stanzin Mingyur, Ladakh

Stanzin Mingyur is from Shang village and is an alumnus of Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS) in Leh. He pursued his M Phil and PhD degree from Gautam Buddha University in Greater Noida. Since 2018, he has taught Buddhist History in CIBS and presented papers in several seminars. As of last year he is coordinating collaborative research between CIBS and the University of Rochester, USA on 'mental health' in Ladakh.

Konchok Norgay, Ladakh

Konchok Norgay is from Shachukul Durbuk sub-division, Ladakh. He has an undergraduate degree in humanities, and works as current Director, Educator and Tinkerer at the SECMOL campus. Norgay is the Co-Founding Director of Ladakh Cheese Farm, and is Co-Founder of Third Pole Construction Team. He is a skilled passive solar house and natural building consultant and builder, and has completed the Natural House Building Training at the Yestermorrow Institute in Vermont, USA, as well as an Ecovillage Design Education training in Thailand.

Sujatha Padmanabhan, India

Sujatha Padmanabhan is a member of Kalpavriksh, an environment NGO. She has been associated with Ladakh for almost two decades. In collaboration with SLC-IT, she helped develop an environment education programme, and authored ‘Ri Gyancha’, a biodiversity resource kit for educators. She was also part of the team at SECMOL that worked on EVS textbooks published by LAHDC and the J&K State Education Board. She has authored storybooks for children, three of which are based in Ladakh. She has also co-authored Something to Chew On, which explores many dimensions of food.

Shiba Desor, India

Shiba Desor is a member of the environmental NGO called Kalpavriksh. Her work experience and interests span community forest governance, enterprise development, oral histories and folklore. Shiba has worked with Maati collective in Munsiari on recollecting and celebrating traditional mountain foods. She has also helped organise two national level gatherings or Vikalp Sangams on food. As a senior research assistant at Dakshin Foundation, she has spent her past two years working with the Karen community in Andamans and helping set up a cooperative-run Karen restaurant there. She has co-authored a book on food called ‘Something to Chew On’.

Rinchen Dolma, Ladakh

Rinchen Dolma, a Leh based Journalist, is a LEAD fellow and the J&K State Nodal Person for Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI). She is amongst the first recipients of the Sanjoy Ghose Ladakh Women Writers’ Award in 2008. She has done a CSE fellowship on Food in 2015 and presented a research paper on Food in the 18 th Colloquium of IALS in Bedlewo, Poland in 2017. Her article on junk food was published in 2018 in Palakneeti, a Marathi magazine. She has authored “Achievement of the fourth hill council, 2011-2015” magazine. She was the editor of Reach Ladakh web portal for 3 years (2008-2011) and is presently employed with the Department of Information and Public Relations, Leh.

Gyatso Tundup, Ladakh

Gyatso Tundup studied architecture. After three years of research, he co-founded Unexplored Ladakh, a forward-thinking, eco-tourism and adventure travel agency in Leh. He has simultaneously continued work as a graphic- and interior-designer, including for the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG).

Tenzin Jamphel, Ladakh

Tenzin Jamphel grew up between Ladakh and Tamil Nadu (South India). After stepping out of a stressful corporate job in Bangalore, he returned to Ladakh full-time to co-found Unexplored Ladakh – a forward-thinking, eco-tourism and adventure travel agency. He has become increasingly vocal about contemporary social and ecological issues in Ladakh, and has written extensively in Stawa magazine, particularly on the topic of mental health.

Carly Gayle, USA

Carly joined the Local Futures team in 2018, focusing on Planet Local and on research. She studied environmental studies at Wellesley College with a focus on permaculture and regenerative design, and then lived in Bali, Indonesia for several years, working at a sustainable property design company and with grassroots projects in agriculture, water, and waste management. She now lives in Washington, DC.

Sonam Dorje, Ladakh

Sonam Dorje is from Saspol village. While studying physics at college in Delhi, he developed an interest in photography and film-making. Combining this with his concern for ecology, he started making films about environmental issues and solutions in Ladakh, including a 2017 film about the Ice Stupa project, which was received very positively. Since then, he has been working with the Ice Stupa project and the Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh (HIAL).

Katie Conlon, USA

Katie Conlon researches waste streams from the perspective of reconnecting an awareness of waste with social and ecological systems, and closing the loop on waste externalities. She is a zero waste advocate, a PhD candidate, Fulbright Fellow, and National Science Foundation Fellow at Portland State University (USA). Ms. Conlon has worked on and researched waste and sustainability issues in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Vietnam, Japan, Nepal, and India. She first became interested in ‘waste as a global issue’ as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa in 2005, when she saw firsthand the contradictions between ‘development’ and ecological harm. She is a member of Break Free From Plastic, a 5 Gyres Ambassador, and a Portland State Institute for Sustainable Solutions Ambassador.

Stanzin Ladol, Ladakh

Stanzin Ladol graduated from Hindu College with an Honours in History, and was awarded a Masters in Modern History from JNU. She is currently a research assistant at Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO).

Nilza Angmo, Ladakh

Nilza is a passionate Ladakhi cook and started a Ladakhi restaurant, Alchi Kitchen, in 2016. In 2018 she opened another restaurant, and is looking forward to further expanding, creating more opportunities for sharing healthy traditional foods.

Stanzin Phuntsog, Ladakh

SP is a self made and self taught eco-architect who started his journey from his childhood in Ladakh. Observing community activities in building, his curiosity and passion for architecture led him to pursue his journey as an eco-architect. He continued his journey at Swaraj university and after that he did few projects in different states of India.

Henry Coleman, Australia

Henry got involved with Local Futures at the age of 15, after questioning conventional development and the global consumer culture. He has worked with the organisation in India and Australia since 2015. He helps to coordinate Local Futures’ projects in Ladakh, runs workshops on ‘The Economics of Happiness’ and ‘Big Picture activism’ and gives talks about localisation. Henry writes articles on these issues for various publications. In 2017, he co-founded Wildspacean experimental community learning space in New South Wales, Australia.

Lobsang Wangmu, Ladakh

A native of Arunachal Pradesh, Lobsang has both a Bachelors and Master’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Delhi. After working with a few Non-Governmental Organizations in Delhi, she joined Flowering Dharma in 2016. Since then she has been working in the field of cultural preservation, at present representing Flowering Dharma as a partner organization of Emory University to introduce a Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning curriculum (developed by the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-Based Ethics at Emory University) to the schools across the Himalayas.