Prevention of air pollution in major cities and introduction of smart and sustainable transportation systems, is a key recommendation outlined in the report
By 2030 Sri Lanka hopes to become a sustainable, upper middle income, Indian Ocean hub with an economy that is prosperous, competitive and advanced; an environment that is green and flourishing; and a society that is inclusive, harmonious, peaceful and just. We will follow the middle path based on balanced inclusive green growth.
In 2015 UN member states, including Sri Lanka, universally accepted the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) and 2030 Agenda. Within this framework, all countries were expected to set out their vision for 2030. As the first step towards the creation of a truly sustainable nation, Sri Lanka’s Presidential Expert Committee (PEC) chaired by Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, drafted the strategic document titled Sustainable Sri Lanka 2030 Vision. Sri Lanka was one of the first countries to prepare such a comprehensive report.
The Committee, appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2017, consists of 40 top-level Sri Lankan experts fully conversant with the range of sustainable development topics. They toiled to produce this report within one year, working without payment and within tight budget constraints. The document is completely non-political and is ready to be implemented by any government in power.
The report describes a holistic approach that shows the key linkages, strategic plan, and practical action recommendations covering high priority areas, needed to achieve the following:
1. A thriving and dynamic economy, providing a good quality of life, that is resource-efficient, stable and resilient to shocks while respecting critical environmental and social sustainability constraints;
2. A green environment that builds on Sri Lankans’ traditional respect for nature, and keeps our resource use within the sustainable capacity of the country;
3. A society that enables us to meet the basic needs of all people while encouraging peace, harmony, reconciliation, inclusion, social justice and security.
The PEC report describes a practical pathway to reach such a sustainable future by 2030, including sustainability status snapshots in the intermediate years 2020 and 2025. PEC team members are now using the Professionals Implementation Network for Sustainability (PINS) to systematically and inclusively consult all relevant stakeholders, and implement high priority recommendations in the document.
The report sets out Sri Lanka’s current country profile and status, key issues and opportunities relating to sustainable development, future priorities and targets, and new initiatives and recommendations to achieve ambitious goals by 2030. It outlines the strategic national sustainable path in simple and clear language, to inform decision-makers in government, civil society and business, while empowering the people, and providing guidance to all. The report’s priorities help to identify which of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) are most important for the nation.
The core framework seeks to harmonize the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the SD triangle. The practical pathway to achieve our sustainable development vision follows a balanced inclusive green growth (BIGG) path, which will enable Sri Lanka to become a world leader of sustainability by 2030.
The BIGG path follows the Sri Lankan tradition of the middle path. We are working towards a people-oriented and prosperous socio-economic system, which is based on democratic and pluralistic institutions; able to protect our ethical values, heritage and environment; and built on respect for freedom, justice, equal opportunities, and human rights. Inspired by the ennobling elements of the country’s rich past, the three major groups (government, private sector, and civil society), need to be disciplined enough to play balanced, cooperative and effective roles within this framework.
The report begins with an Executive Summary, followed by a section which explains the fundamental aspects of sustainable development. Next, this complex topic is interpreted in the Sri Lankan context, by breaking it down in terms of three broad categories:
1. Economic, Social and Environmental Clusters (or Dimensions);
2. Sectors (like energy, health, etc.); and
3. Cross-cutting Themes (like gender, climate change, etc.).
The process of interaction and integration across the clusters, sectors and themes is described.
The next section presents an analysis of the three broad dimensions (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development in Sri Lanka. Then each main sector is examined, followed by an analysis of all the cross-cutting themes. For each cluster, sector and theme, the report describes its current status, the main issues and challenges, potential remedies and benefits, and the likely future status. Finally, all key recommendations and synthesis of results are presented. A few major points are succinctly summarized below.
Key economic action recommendations
a. Strengthen fiscal consolidation, improve tax collection efforts and adopt prudent monetary and exchange rate policies to achieve internal stability.
b. Increase export earnings and FDI flows to achieve external stability and manage high levels of debt.
c. Promote sustainable agriculture and address persistent poverty in the rural sector.
d. Rationalize wasteful expenditure with precise targeting of poverty welfare programmes.
e. Create more job opportunities, especially for women and youth.
f. Provide better opportunities for the growing senior citizen population and improve their retirement social security safety nets.
g. Strengthen ongoing efforts to review and restructure strategic SOEs.
h. Improve Doing Business indicators.
i. Minimize corruption by promoting transparency and accountability
Key environmental action recommendations
a. Reduce vulnerability to disasters (e.g. droughts, floods, landslides) and improve adaptation to climate change. b. Prevent air pollution in major cities and introduce smart and sustainable transportation systems.
c. Implement participatory approaches to increase forest cover, and reduce soil erosion, land degradation and enhance soil fertility.
d. Improve waste disposal.
e. Reduce water pollution, preserve ecosystem services, improve ecosystem health, and minimize adverse impacts on human health (like CKDU and dengue).
f. Systematically replace fossil fuel-based power generation with renewable energy.
g. Implement ideas about de-growth, bio-economy and circular economy.
h. Implement organic and bio-dynamic agricultural practices and reduce the use of agrochemicals.
Key social action recommendations
a. Reduce income inequality, and regional, rural-urban and gender-based disparities.
b. Ensure greater income and employment security.
c. Implement a comprehensive, multi-level program of reconciliation.
d. Reduce inequality in services - public-private, rural-urban: in healthcare, education, livelihoods and transport.
e. Improve targeted social services to empower disadvantaged groups.
f. Strengthen subsidiarity by empowering lower tiers of government.
g. Strengthen the rule of law, ensure personal safety and reduce corruption and gender-based violence.
Over the past few weeks, much has been said about the potential changes the country would witness to achieve sustainable development, including environmental, economic and social objectives. In view of the forthcoming election, the Daily Mirror invites all presidential candidates to clearly express as to how and when the recommendations of this report would be implemented if elected to the highest office of Sri Lanka. Subsequent articles will explore key sectors and themes in greater detail.
The Sustainable Sri Lanka 2030 Vision and Strategic Path report is downloadable from: