Narain plays an active role in policy formulation on issues of environment and development in India and globally. She has in her over 4 decades of work conducted in-depth research on the governance and management of the environment and directed campaigns on air pollution control, community water management, pesticide regulation and sustainable urbanization etc. She has also worked extensively on climate change, with a particular interest in advocating for an ambitious and equitable global agreement. Her effort to combine science-based evidence and solutions with a pro-poor perspective to mainstream environmental concerns in public policy and society has been richly awarded in India and internationally.
Narain was a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and has been awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour. In 2005, she chaired the Tiger Task Force at the direction of the Prime Minister, to evolve an action plan for conservation in the country after the loss of tigers from a protected reserve. She was also a member of the National Ganga River Basin Authority set up by the then Prime Minister to develop effective measures to conserve and clean up the river. She was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize in 2005 and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Award for her work to build a water literate society that values every raindrop and teaches society to learn from the frugality of our ancestors, to build a water prudent world. She was twice on the list of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals put out by Foreign Policy/Prospect, and in 2016, Time Magazine featured her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for her advocacy on poor and the environment and climate change. Narain received “The Order of the Polar Star” award from the Swedish Government in 2017 and the Edinburgh Medal in 2020. Narain also appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the documentary “Before The Flood” and talked about the impact of climate change on the Monsoon in India and how it affects farmers’ communities.
Narain continues to serve on national and international committees on environment and work to research and build awareness about the urgency of action on environment and development.