IWMI Representative Southeast Asia and Myanmar
Sonali has over 20 years of experience in natural resource management, with an emphasis on building livelihoods resilience and reducing poverty, especially in the context of agricultural and aquatic systems (including wetlands). Her interests lie in leading and engaging in interdisciplinary research-for-development initiatives with high potential for uptake. Recent research includes investigating ways of improving the livelihoods of communities impacted by hydropower dams, considering gender aspects and conducting livelihood pilots, incorporating livelihoods and fisheries considerations into participatory agricultural development planning processes, assessing equity aspects in index-based flood insurance schemes developed to address climate change, and investigating integrated approaches for wetlands conservation and poverty eradication.
Sonali worked for the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) both in Sri Lanka and the USA. At IUCN Sri Lanka, she was Head of their National Marine & Coastal Program, which she helped set up and for which she developed an overall strategic plan. As Head, she managed implementation and operations of a range of projects covering themes such as integrated coastal zone management (including community driven development and co-management initiatives), and the conservation of threatened marine species and ecosystems. As a Policy Fellow at IUCN USA (supported by the Ford Foundation), she worked with the Sustainable Use Initiative on aspects related to community participation in the governance of marine and coastal resources. Sonali has a multidisciplinary background with a BSc (Honors) in Biology, an MSc in ‘Ecosystems Analysis and Governance’ – both from the University of Warwick (UK) and a PhD from Imperial College London (UK). Her PhD was supported by several grants, including a British Chevening Scholarship.
English and Sinhala