Prof Receives $200,000 Grant to Help India 'Go Green'

July 19, 2012 - News Release

Learning how small businesses in India can earn more green and go greener is the dual purpose of a three-year, $200,000 research award to a University of Guelph professor.

Prof. Nonita Yap, School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, will work with Indian colleagues to study factors that promote and hinder the spread of cleaner production technologies among micro and small enterprises in eastern India.

Her award comes from the partnership development program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, including funding from Canada’s Economic Action Plan for academic-industry research partnerships.

She hopes her study will ultimately help improve livelihoods and environment in India. “Poverty reduction and environmental sustainability are among the two most pressing global problems challenging development researchers and practitioners,” she said.

Cleaner production technologies will improve not just environmental health but worker health, she said. “These innovations are about reducing if not preventing the generation of waste. What leaves the facility as waste begins within the facility as an occupational hazard.”

Her goals are to document economic and environmental benefits of cleaner production, improve policy-making to support innovation among smaller businesses, and discourage policy instruments and business practices and networks that often stifle innovation.

The research team will look at four sectors – foundries, brick-makers, tanneries and food processors – in West Bengal and Orissa states. Orissa is among India’s least developed regions, with low literacy rates.

Under the project, U of G grad students and Indian researchers will interview companies, business groups, government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO).

For micro enterprises of five to 20 workers and small businesses numbering fewer than 100 people, even small improvements to current processes may make big differences, said Yap. “For developing countries, what are needed are not new technologies but the ability to exploit existing ones.”

About 27 million small enterprises operate in India and are the second-largest source of employment next to agriculture, according to 2004 statistics. In developing countries, micro and small businesses create 50 to 90 per cent of all jobs, said Yap. “They are very important, but they are generally behind technologically.”

The project includes Indian partners at the Xavier Institute of Management in Orissa, the Gujarat Institute of Development Research, the Centre for Community Development, the Energy and Resources Institute, and an NGO called CTxGreEn.

Yap is also working on a project led by the University of British Columbia on watershed governance issues in the Philippines. Earlier she looked at clean production innovation in western India.

Prof. Nonita Yap
School of Environmental Design and Rural Development
University of Guelph
519-824-4120, Ext. 56536

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982,

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