President Maithripala Sirisena reciting the pledge for the initiative towards blue-green economy
President Maithripala Sirisena at the launch of Sri Lanka Next
‘Sri Lanka Next’, a landmark campaign to take Sri Lanka towards the blue-green era, was formally initiated on January 6, 2016 under the aegis of President Maithripala Sirisena at the Bandaranayake Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH).
A series of strategic policy announcements and national initiatives and activities has been planned throughout the year to familiarize all stakeholders of the economy, including the private and state sectors and civil society, about the mitigation and adaptation strategies that Sri Lanka must adopt to face the challenge of climate change.
Conceptualized with the aim of integrating all sections of Sri Lankan society to participate in Sri Lanka’s journey towards the global vision to limit the rise of global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, the Sri Lanka Next campaign will propel the nation to the next level of sustainable low-emission development paradigm, where opportunities arising from the emerging new green economy and blue economy would be tapped.
The President of Sri Lanka, who is also the Mahaweli Development and Environment Minister, will steer the campaign under his personal direction in conjunction with the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), the Forest Department’s REDD+ initiative together with the Wildlife Conservation Department, National Climate Secretariat (NCS) and all other relevant institutions in the government and private sector and international agencies.
The key focus of this national initiative is to ensure that Sri Lanka, as a nation, shifts towards clean renewable energy and divests from fossil fuel consumption for the industrial and transport sectors. This will reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based fertilizer inputs and help adopt organic agricultural practices, while adhering strictly to good waste management practices and emissions reduction, enabling commercial and domestic activities. A low carbon emission development model would be adopted with green and blue economic policies becoming the main pillar for the nation’s future path in sustainable economic and social development.
World leaders who attended the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (21st Session of Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -COP 21) held in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015, have resolved that all possible actions be taken to limit the rise of global warming to well below two degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level by the year 2100. It was further resolved that should be the desire of all developing countries to limit this to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
President Maithripala Sirisena speaking at the event said, “I am proud to announce the Sri Lanka Next campaign as the cornerstone of Sri Lanka’s thrust in becoming a nation with a strong eco-friendly conscience, which will be backed by supporting policies and action. Sri Lanka Next is a call to policymakers, politicians and government officials to plan the development activities and mechanisms in an environmental-friendly manner.
It is also a call to each and every Sri Lankan to take the blue-green baton ahead for a sustainable future. It is our vision to emerge as a leader in global eco-civilization by protecting nature, by limiting the use of natural resources to be within the sustainable ecological capacity of the country, respecting critical social and environmental limits when striving for economic prosperity and building the resilience of vulnerable communities in the country by encouraging climate change mitigation as well as implementation of adaptation measures.
Sri Lanka has already ratified several landmark global sustainability treaties and we are confident that Sri Lanka Next will further attract all sections of our society, across all sectors, to become stakeholders in our march towards a blue-green economy. While Sri Lanka has taken many steps in this direction in the past, I expect our novel, more purpose-driven campaign to set a new benchmark for the country.”
A week-long event series post the launch of Sri Lanka Next has been organised to commence during the Environment Week, which falls for the first week of June 2016, which will consist of a conference, exhibition and a symposium on the blue-green economy, followed by a film festival and a student-led event. The grand finale of the Sri Lanka Next campaign year will be the highly coveted 2016 Presidential Awards on Environment. The events have been structured such that all section of society and economy can be engaged.
The blue economy is the oceanic economy and marine resources. Sri Lanka will be adopting policies to ensure sustainability of marine wealth by preserving marine biological resources, enhancing oceanic navigation and port facilities and improving capabilities in maritime archaeology and anthropology, sourcing alternate oceanic energy and the production of medicine using marine resources.
The green economy would include ensuring all industries production becomes eco-friendly, developing green agriculture and green energy, while bringing in the green element in sectors such as construction, transport and urban and rural development.
The Sri Lanka Next campaign will raise awareness of why transition to low-emission development in Sri Lanka is urgently needed, as it will stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. This will require Sri Lanka to decouple carbon emissions from economic growth through a series of measures across all economic sectors, such as energy generation, efficiency improvements, changes in fuel mix, managing land use change and environment-friendly agriculture.
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