She participated in the 1970s in the Chipko movement, of Indian women hugging the trees to prevent their felling, and founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in 1982. Initiatives of this Foundation are the organic farming programme Navdanya, the Bija Vidyapeeth (or Seed University, International College for Sustainable Living), and Diverse Women for Diversity. Another of the Vandana Shiva's initiatives is the Living Democracy Movement.
She received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993 "...For placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse." (See ). Other awards she has received include the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1993 (see ), and the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations (UN).
Vandana Shiva is one of the leaders of the International Forum on Globalization, (along with Jerry Mander, Edward Goldsmith, Ralph Nader, Jeremy Rifkin, etc.), and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as anti-globalization movement.