Panel Discussion: Climate Change and Tamils

Having a uniquely global presence, Tamil people are important stakeholders in the fight against Climate Change. As Tamils do not have a nation-state to directly address the effects of Climate Change on their people nor to represent themselves as sovereign equals in the international arena, it is critical for Tamils to engage in the vital discussion of Climate Change.

Climate Change will not only affect the traditional Tamil homelands where sea-levels are rising and water-scarcity is becoming increasingly prevalent, but all countries where Tamils are citizens will be impacted by Climate Change directly and indirectly. Given the scale of this emergency, The Tamil Academic Journal’s theme for this year’s issue and accompanying conference will be ‘Climate Change and Tamils.’ 

To launch our call for papers, we will have two panel discussions that will seek to address the importance of Climate Change for Tamils and the need to raise awareness:

  • Panel 1: Climate Change Impacts – A Water Perspective
  • Panel 2: Environmental Activism: Raising Awareness



  • Introduction of Tamil Academic Journal (TAJ)
  • Introduction of Call for Papers

Introduction to the panel members and their work

Panel 1: Climate Change Impacts – A Water Perspective



Panel 2: Environmental Activism: Raising Awareness


Final remarks 


Panel 1

Ms. Karunananthan

Meera Karunananthan is the Director of the Blue Planet Project, a global water justice organization that promotes the human right to water and supports local struggles against the privatization and commodification of water around the world. In 2017, she won the Women of Courage award conferred by Unanima International for her work challenging corporate capture of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals agenda. In 2018, a project she created for the implementation of the human right to water at the municipal level called the Blue Communities Project was the co-recipient of the international City to City award by FAD Barcelona. 

Prior to this, Meera was the national water campaigner at the Council of Canadians where she spearheaded campaigns in solidarity with Indigenous struggles against extractive projects in Canada and joined First Nations across the country in demanding safe, clean drinking water and sanitation for all. She is currently completing a PhD in human geography at the University of Ottawa, on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin land. 

Dr. Vairavamoorthy

Kala Vairavamoorthy is an internationally recognized water resource management expert, with a particular interest in urban water issues. He has led several urban water management projects for the EU, World Bank, African Development Bank and DFID. He is currently a member of the ADB’s Water Advisory Group.

He joined the IWA from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), where he was the Deputy Director General (DDG). He was the Founding Dean of the Patel College of Global Sustainability and a tenured Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, at the University of South Florida. Prior to that he was a full Professor and Chair of Water Engineering at the University of Birmingham, UK, and Professor and Head of Core of Sustainable Urban Water Systems at UNESCO-IHE. He is currently Professor (adjunct) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IITM).

Kala Vairavamoorthy has a PhD and MSc in Environmental Engineering from Imperial College, London, UK and a BSc(Hons) in Civil Engineering from King’s College, London. He is also a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK).

Dr Khan

Saleem Khan is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Studies, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He is an interdisciplinary scholar in climate change adaptation and sustainable development. He holds his Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) in sea-level rise and coastal adaptation from the Centre for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Management, Anna University, Chennai.

He accomplished his Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA and also his Institute Postdoctoral Research at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras), Chennai, India in climate change adaptation science and policy.  He has also served as a Climate Change Program Officer for the State of Tamil Nadu at the Department of Environment (DoE), Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai. In addition, he worked as a Senior Scientist and Research Scientist at M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and Centre for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University.

Dr. Khan’s research interest broadly includes Climate Change (Sea-level rise, Impacts and Vulnerability, Coasts, Urban, Resilience) Adaptation Science, Adaptation Policy, Adaptation Law, and Adaptation Governance. For more information about Dr. Khan, visit:

Panel 2:

Ms. Nathan

Abinaya Nathan is a Tamil activist based in London. She has been a writer and editor at the Tamil Guardian, the premier English-language news website on Tamil issues, since 2012. She has previously worked in policy and campaigns, youth work and as a political aide.

Abinaya is currently pursuing MSc Global Futures (Justice, Development & Sustainability) at Royal Holloway (University of London), and holds a BA Social and Political Studies from University College London.

Mr. Sundarrajan

Mr. Sundarrajan is an IT engineer by trade and regrouped the environmental organisation, Poovulagin Nanbargal (Friends of the Earth) in 2008 in Tamil Nadu, India. He is an environmental activist informing the public on eco-politics, organic farming and water issues and is part of the editorial team of the Poovulagu magazine.

Poovulagin Nanbargal has published articles about ecology, the Green Revolution in India and its impact on agriculture. The organisation publishes a bimonthly environmental magazine called Poovulagu and gave legal support to People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

Dr. Sriskandarajah

Nadarajah Sriskandarajah (Sri) is Professor Emeritus at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala where he held the Chair of Environmental Communication for ten years until his retirement in 2017. He is passionate about designing and facilitating learner-centred education and applying ‘systems thinking and practice’ to wicked problems facing society.

Environmental Communication is described by some as a crisis discipline and seen by Sri as a discipline of hope. It concerns itself with understanding how different actors in society ‘construct’ environmental ‘problems’, and how then society’s responses to these problems are negotiated, both viewed through a communication lens. He and his students conducted ‘action research’ to transcend competing interests and conflicting values at the intersection of science and society, and nature and culture. Their research covered issues in water, food and agriculture, forestry, wildlife, nature management and climate change.

Sri is attached to research program at the University of Jaffna at present guiding the development of a trans-disciplinary, multi stakeholder approach for water security in Northern Province. They hope that over the life of the project, academics, activists, technocrats, and citizens would all engage in informed dialogue, deliberation and decision making around the looming ground water crisis there.