Dekila Chungyalpa is the Co-Founder and Director of the Loka Initiative, a capacity-building and outreach platform at the University of Wisconsin – Madison for faith leaders and culture keepers of Indigenous traditions who work on environmental and climate issues. Dekila began her career working on community-based conservation in the Himalayas and went on to work on regional climate change adaptation and free flowing rivers in the Mekong region for the World Wildlife Fund. In 2008, she helped establish Khoryug, an association of over 50 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries implementing environmental projects across the Himalayas under the auspices of His Holiness the Karmapa, the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In 2009, Dekila founded and led WWF Sacred Earth, a 5-year pilot program that built partnerships with faith leaders and religious institutions towards concrete conservation results in the Amazon, East Africa, Himalayas, Mekong, and the United States. She received the prestigious Yale McCluskey Award in 2014 for conservation innovation for her work and moved to the Yale School of Environmental Studies as an associate research scientist, where she researched, lectured and designed the prototype for what is now the Loka Initiative. In 2018, in partnership with many faith and Indigenous leaders as well as Dr. Richard Davidson, Dr. John Dunne, Dr. Jonathan Patz, Dr. Paul Robbins and others at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she developed and launched the Loka Initiative with a singular vision; that inner, community, and planetary resilience are interdependent and we cannot achieve any one of these goals without working on the other two. She is originally from the Himalayan state of Sikkim in India and speaks five languages: Sikkimese, Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi and English.

This profile was last updated on October 29, 2020

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