Experts discuss framing a green development pathway for Sri Lanka
Daily FT: Experts from the Government, private sector, UN agencies, think tanks, and other development partners, came together at last week’s kickstarter sessions of the Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development, held on 12 and 14 October.
With over 450 participants joining in virtually, they sought to come to a common understanding of a localised, Sri Lankan narrative of green development and explore the role of innovation, stewardship, and human agency to catalyse action towards a holistic approach to green development.
The Colombo Development Dialogues on Green Development, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, and other co-convening partners started this week, bringing together 20+ partners and close to 40 speakers joining from nearly 10 countries across four days.
The dialogues aim to reaffirm Sri Lanka’s climate and environmental commitments, by encouraging policymakers to consider bringing diverse green initiatives to a unified manifesto and creating a multi-stakeholder platform to support the positioning of green development in the country as an urgent and bipartisan priority.
Featuring prominent Government stakeholders such as Minister of Environment and Chair of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on ‘Creating a Green Sri Lanka with Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change’ Mahinda Amaraweera and Ministry of Environment Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the role and commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka towards pursuing a green development trajectory was strongly communicated.
A strong private sector point of view was brought forward by Dilhan Fernando, CEO of Dilmah Tea, Chairman of the UN Global Compact Network Sri Lanka, and Chair and Initiating Partner of Biodiversity Sri Lanka, who highlighted the importance of understanding and localising international best practices to build momentum and cohesion at a national level.
Other prominent speakers include Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Denis Chaibi and Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary-General to the UN, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific for UNDP, who spoke to the opportunities and untapped potential for Sri Lanka to re-align its development trajectory to enable a post-pandemic green recovery.
Further reflecting on the human element of green development, University of Oxford Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative Director Dr. Sabina Alkire emphasised the importance of identifying and addressing the intersections between human and environmental deprivations to enhance equity and advance social justice in working towards green development.
The first two sessions also featured Minister of Mass Media Dullas Alahapperuma, State Minister of Samurdhi, Household Economy, Microfinance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilised State Resources Development Shehan Semasinghe, New Zealand’s first Resident High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Michael Appleton, UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, World Bank Lead Economist and Program Leader for Human Development for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Dr. Harsha Aturupane and UNDP in Sri Lanka Resident Representative Robert Juhkam.
Panellists also included Sustainable Development Council of Sri Lanka Director-General Chamindry Saparamadu, Ministry of Finance Deputy Secretary to the Treasury R.M.P. Rathnayake, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Senior Professor in Forestry and Environmental Sciences Prof. Hemanthi Ranasinghe, serial innovator, entrepreneur and Thuru Co-Founder Heminda Jayaweera, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate Head of Innovation for Development Benjamin Kumpf, UNICEF Sri Lanka Deputy Representative Emma Brigham, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) Team Leader, Sustainable Development Karin Fernando and UNESCO Program Specialist, Natural Sciences Unit Benno Boer.
On Thursday (21 October) the session titled ‘Sourcing Alternatives: Leveraging Green Financing for Development’ took place while the closing session of the series on Friday, 22 October, is titled ‘Towards a Multistakeholder Approach to Green Development’ also featuring the UK Government’s COP26 Regional Ambassador to Asia-Pacific and South Asia.
Sri Lanka has given prominence to green development in its ongoing development programme as the country is focused on transforming into a blue green economy. This has opened up a host of new business/investment opportunities. With Sri Lanka fast becoming an emerging business destination in the South Asian region supported by the country’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as concessions enjoyed, foreign businesses/investors could confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka.
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